Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Hope is Active. . .and Passive?
In Andy's final message to his best friend, he says, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things."
Hope is a good thing. This is because hope is more than just wishful thinking. Hope, especially biblical hope, has more to do with expectation than with imagination. Hope is the confident expectation that better days are ahead.
In his first letter, the Apostle Peter talks a lot about hope. One of the reasons for this is that Peter says that believers in Jesus are strangers, pilgrims, temporary residents on this earth. Because of this, we will find ourselves disappointed in how we are treated and in how things turn out. We need hope. We need to expect that better days are ahead.
In the first chapter alone, Peter tells us two very important things about hope. The first comes in 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Peter says that we have hope. And why? Because God gave it as a gift. Hope is given by God. Hope is received by us. We passively receive the ability to have hope.
As a child, I wanted to play for the Dodgers. I wasn't very good at baseball. Let me be honest: today as a 34 year-old, I have no hope that I will play for the Dodgers. It simply is not reasonable. If I was going to find hope that I would someday play for the Dodgers, something would need to happen to give me a basis for that hope. I would need to receive hope somehow.
Peter says that believers who are struggling through life can have hope because God has qualified us for this hope. Jesus' resurrection gives us an objective basis on which to expect that better days are in our future, when Jesus returns.
Hope is a gift that is meant to be received.
But then Peter says something else in 1:13: Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
Peter tells us to respond actively to this hope that we have been given. He tells us to set our hope on the return of Jesus, and on the better days, on all the blessings, that his return will bring.
We passively receive hope.
We actively set our hope.
If you go bankrupt. If you are unemployed. If you are lonely. If you have a chronic illness. If you are at a low point in your life, you cannot let despair win out. But you don't respond to these difficulties by setting your hope in future money, or a future job, or a future spouse, or future health. You set your hope, your expectation for blessing, on the fact that the same Jesus who came to the earth to give his life, will one day return to usher in his kingdom. After all, this world is not your eternal home. You are a temporary resident, awaiting its renewal.
You have been given this hope, now set your hope! Thank God for graciously giving you a basis for hope, and then trust him enough to bank on the future he has promised.
After all, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.