1 Thessalonians 4:13–14; 1 Corinthians 13:4–13; James 1:22–25 (read online ⧉)
The well-known atheist, Christopher Hitchens, had many debates (philosophical, scientific) with Christians. During at least one (and probably many) of the debates, he was asked what his hope was or what hope his view delivered, and he answered honestly…none.
The world always needs hope. Sermons and devotionals are only to be the groundwork for Christians living out their hope. How one lives out hope is therefore very important. Hope is not just a state of mind or state of being. If we state we have hope and yet live as if we have none, then our hope is a lie and we are hypocrites.
Paul states that love is the greatest of the great three: faith, hope, love. However, love cannot just be said; it must be done. James’ concern was that people said a lot of things, but did little in response. Today is not that different. Christians say love a lot.
One could say, especially in this day and age, that hope is love lived out. Without love, hope is blind optimism for the future. In love, hope finds its ultimate fulfillment in knowing and trusting God.
How this often will work out is helping another person not out of obligation or expectation (especially of reciprocation), but out of hope that they will see Jesus Christ in and through you.
This means that people who are different than us (especially in regards to motivations and situations) will still receive hope through the love we show them when we aid or even simply listen to their story.
Through hope, honest and true hope in the Living God, we are able to be non-judgmental, not because we actually are, but because we trust in the loving and merciful judgment of God. This is also why phrases such as, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” are often so dangerous, for people live out a hope-LESS response for they only know or hear of God’s anger, and never learn about the motivation of God’s anger…love.
As we watch a slower than desired “return to normal”, and as friends, family, and some of us are experiencing financial struggles due to a weakening economy, being overcome by fear, hopelessness, pessimism, and cynicism is easy. Being the hope-filled people that God has made us to be is counter-cultural. This is a good thing.
※※ A Prayer of Augustine ※※
Now it is you alone that I love,
you alone that I follow,
you alone that I seek,
you alone that I feel ready to serve,
because you alone rule justly.
It is to your authority alone that I want to submit.
Command me, I pray, to do whatever you will,
but heal and open my ears
that I may hear your voice.
Heal and open my eyes
that I may see your will.
Drive out from me
that I may acknowledge you alone.
Tell me where to look
that I may see you,
and I will place my hope in doing your will. Amen
※※ Questions ※※
1) What can you point to in your living (rather than your words) that show you have hope?
2) Is there a difference between optimism and living in hope? How do you tell the difference in a person’s life?
3) How is hope counter-cultural?