Never Let Go of Hope – 1

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Scripture References: Colossians 1:21-29

We live in a world that is so massive, so tentative, and often so tragic that we have a hard time putting much stock in hope of any kind. In fact, we may be living in such a time that the fullness of hope, from the Christian perspective, is all but impossible; for us, hope can be little more than wishful thinking at best. Maybe that’s all a “secularized hope” could ever be since a great deal of the aptness and believability of hope has to do with the object of our hope. Then the question, “In what do we base our hope?” or “In whom do we ground our hope?” becomes absolutely essential.

Let’s say that we occasionally wonder to ourselves if there are any real possibilities for a “better world.” None of the rose-colored glasses stuff, but honestly and realistically, is the world going to worsen, stay about where it is from generation to generation, or somehow get to be better off? That’s a justified concern. There probably are numerous answers to the related questions we would raise in regard to our concern. The way we ask the questions has a great deal to do with what kind of answers we can expect. Again, in what do we base our hope or in whom do we ground our hope? In other words, in what context are we raising the questions about possibilities for a better world?

If we ask from a strictly secular point of view, if we wonder whether or not humanity, on its own, will ever do much better than it has done or is doing to make the world a better place, we don’t have many reasons to be optimistic about improvement; though we may live in an age in which there are a few more reasons for optimism than we have had since the ending of the Vietnam War or even the “Cold War.”

However, if we ask about a better world theologically and wonder in a Christian context, being careful to leave aside all false optimism, I think we come out at a completely different place. Christian hope as far as the world is concerned has to do with what GOD can do with and through us, and that changes the picture entirely. Further, Christian hope moves well beyond wishful thinking and inner sparks to assurances and confidence. God has said that the world can be a better place.

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King Solomon had prayed for forgiveness for the people of Israel who had sinned against God, and God’s response was:

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.

In the chapter of Colossians out of which our lesson is taken, Paul “ascribes both creation and preservation” of the world to Jesus Christ:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. – Colossians 1:15–17.

The German theologian Karl Heim has pointed out that Paul’s “dynamic view of the universe” here is “most congenial to belief in a living God who creates the world continuously anew.”1 If these scriptural and contemporary analyses are anywhere near correct, there are solid reasons for expecting that the world can be a better place.

What kind of world would be better? A world with less war and more international community is desired of course, where justice prevails and homelessness and hunger are not forced on anyone. A better world would be a place in which cancer and other ailments would be cured and young people can justifiably look to the future as bright. A better world would be a place in which the elderly are affirmed and never made to feel no longer needed and the environment is respected and cared for as every other God-given gift.

This is where Christian hope differs from wishful thinking or mere hopefulness. The gift has been promised, and it will be delivered. We don’t know when, and we don’t know if it will be gradually or suddenly; we cannot control or manipulate God. But God the Father knows for certainty. Yet, certainly there are some contingencies.

To Be Continued

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1 Karl Heim, Jesus, the world’s perfecter : the atonement and the renewal of the world (1959)
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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