The Challenge Of Hope

From the September 2014 Prairie Preacher.

Rom. 15  13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

This summer we “preached and teached” our way through the book of Revelation. I had been told from my earliest training toward being a pastor that Revelation was intended to be a book of hope. I must admit, I may never have appreciated that fact until now. I know what it’s like to think of Revelation as “scary.” I think most Christians know this problem.

A good friend in the ministry—and indeed since our college days—put me on to the “good stuff” when it comes to Revelation. Let me itemize what I have learned with regard to the Church as a whole today and us here at St. John’s in particular.

  1. Christ’s resurrection is our hope because we too will be resurrected. Even though we confess them every Sunday, the most forgotten words in the Apostles’ Creed are “the resurrection of the body.” The Church is guilty, for many centuries now, of not preaching this enough. I know what I’m going to be working on! J
  2. This hope was the primary factor in helping early Christianity spread and become a worldwide religion. While Christianity is still the only religion that has real “Good News” in that God saves us freely in Christ, hope fills out more of the picture for us. That salvation includes our own resurrection. That truth probably made Christianity truly distinct in the late Roman empire and contributed to its success.
  3. Hope is something we always have in Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection are fact and they are the finishing of the battle with Satan. When we tell ourselves that things are hopeless, the devil is blinding us to the truth. You have hope. It’s yours today! Nothing makes me happier than to tell you that.
  4. Hope keeps its eyes on the future, but lives itself out in the present. Perhaps people and churches wait for things to get better too much, rather than act hopefully in the present toward making them better. Similar to the last point, hope is our energy today and that energy well spent gives us a brighter future.

Frankly, that’s just the beginning of everything I got out of Revelation this summer. But those four points right there are enough to give all of us the energy to do the work God has given us to do. My prayer can only be Paul’s prayer in the verse above from the end of Romans. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Working with you today for a bright future,

Pastor T.

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