Rev. Dan Puckett: The solid foundation for hope in the New YearPublished 10:33pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012
With the beginning of a new year, there is a lot of talk about hope for the future.
This is an election year. Once again, “hope” is central to everybody’s appeal.
What is our hope? What are we looking for?
Are we looking for a better job or just a job in the days ahead? Maybe we hope that somehow a difficult relationship will be healed. Maybe we hope for better health in the days ahead. It is true that hope does keep us going.
The most important question is, what are we basing our hope on? A lot of people just rely on the law of averages: it has been bad; it must get better. Others are optimistic just for the sake of optimism.
We must realize there is not very much most of us can do to change our basic circumstances. We do not have the power to change people, and if the world has been grinding us up, it will probably continue to do so. Hope must be based on something deeper — something that cannot be changed.
The apostle Paul in the New Testament letter to the Corinthian church talks about hope. In 1 Corinthians 15:19, Paul says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” That seems like a strange statement in light of the context of Christianity and the message that Jesus Christ is the only one who can set us free.
Jesus does set us free from sin through his finished work on the cross. But the real freedom comes when we put our hope in the resurrected Christ. Jesus died and was buried, but God raised him from the dead.
Jesus talked a lot about suffering. He talked about family conflict. He talked about being persecuted. He suffered all those things. His life on earth resulted in a cruel and tragic crucifixion. What the apostle Paul is saying is that we are certainly not better than Christ. If he suffered without any relief, we can expect to suffer likewise.
The key is what happened after the suffering and crucifixion? It was resurrection! The writer of Hebrews admonishes us, regarding Christ and hope: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Hope must be based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ; he is risen from the dead!
Most people in the world do not have even the basic hope in Christ spoken of by Paul. If hope in Christ is the baseline, many do not even approach it. But even basic hope in Christ will not elevate our lives. It is the blessed hope of the resurrected Christ and the promise that, as he rose from the dead, so shall those who put their trust in the finished work of Christ’s death and resurrection. Our hope is that we will one day live and reign with him. Do you have hope?
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