After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Followers of Jesus have hope in a troubled world. Paul describes it as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Another way of saying this would be eternal life: life that is not marred by the brokenness all of us know and are experiencing right now.
The glory that followers of Jesus look forward to is the world we all want. It is the world our hearts ache for – a better world, a safe world, a glorious world that will last forever. Followers of Jesus have this hope. And we are looking forward to it with confidence.
Christian hope anticipates future glory.
We often use the word hope with a vague uncertainty, as if hope were wishful thinking shot through with doubt. We think, “I hope these things happen… but they might not.”
Is the Christian hope of heaven in that category?
And here’s why. Our hope is “laid up for [us] in heaven. Of this [we] have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel (Col. 1:5).
Gospel is not a word that we use today, except in churches. But it means a big announcement that will change the world. If someone found a vaccine to the coronavirus, that news would be gospel. It would be a world-changing announcement.
The world-changing announcement that Paul speaks of is the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. And this marvelous truth holds out hope for every person in the world today.
This hope is not wishful thinking. Instead, it is a solid reality because it is rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, “the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you (Col. 1:5-6).
What difference does following Jesus make in this troubled world? We have hope.
This hope is stored up in heaven. It is the hope of glory – the joyful anticipation of a world with no viruses, no injustice, no pain – and it is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Do you have that hope? Is this what you’re looking forward to? Is your hope filled, not with a vague uncertainty, but with solid assurance won by Christ on the cross and sealed by His resurrection?
Now at this point you might say, “Well, okay, Nathan, that’s great, but how does this help me now? Our world is in trouble. So how does a future hope help me today?”
Christian hope bears fruit today.
Followers of Jesus have more than hope for the future, they have faith and love for today. And our faith and love flow from our hope. Paul speaks about the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for us in heaven (Col. 1:4-5).
Do you see how faith, hope and love are linked? Hope gives birth to faith and love. Because followers of Jesus are confident of what He will do in the future (hope), we can trust Him for what He is doing now (faith).
The place to begin is to trust Jesus for the future He has promised. But as you trust Jesus for a place in the future, you must also trust Him to get you there. Trust Him to help you, to sustain you, to keep you, and to navigate you through any crisis that comes in your life.
What difference does following Jesus make in our troubled world? We have hope and we have faith. Or perhaps a better way to say it is: “We’re learning to have faith.”
As I look forward to what Jesus will do, I’m learning to trust what He is doing now. Hope in Jesus gives birth to faith in Jesus. I can trust in what Jesus is doing now because I’m sure of what He will do in the future.
But there’s more. Hope gives birth to faith, and it also gives birth to love, the kind of faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for us in heaven (Col. 1:4-5). I’m not suggesting for one minute that followers of Jesus are the only ones who love. Far from it. But there is something different about the way followers of Jesus love, or are called to love.
Christian hope fosters freedom—both now and for eternity.
Being confident about the future liberates us to love today. When you know that you are loved enough to be given a place in the glorious future promised by Jesus, you can learn to love others as He has loved you.
Jesus loved you with a love that sacrificed everything for you, and when you know that love you will be able to love others, even when it is costly.
You will be free to love people who aren’t like you – and that’s what we are called to do in the church. Followers of Jesus are part of a community that is learning to love as Jesus loved, and that is a beautiful thing to be part of.
Faith, hope, and love – aren’t these things that you would want to have in your life? Don’t you want to have a future you can look forward to? Don’t you want to have someone you can trust? Don’t you want to have someone whose love will never fail you? God holds out these gifts to you in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing (Col. 1:6), and my prayer for you is that the gospel will bear the fruit of faith, hope, and love in your life today.
Believe the world-changing good news that Jesus Christ died for sin and rose from the dead. Receive God’s gracious gift of forgiveness by turning to Him and trusting Him today. Take hold of the hope held out to you in the gospel of Jesus Christ.