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For the past several days we have focused on one simple word: hope. The paradoxical reality of hope is that it is often most needed when it is hardest to find. Like the invalid man, many of us find ourselves in circumstances that just don’t make sense. It may seem that we have no direction and that there is no end in sight. The truth is, however, that Christians should have more hope than anyone, and we should offer hope to everyone. So, at the close of another week of spiritual exercises, we are going to build out our theology of hope and discover how our hope may just impact those around us.
Imagine for a moment that you are a disciple of Jesus in the 1st century. Christianity is often illegal, oppressed, or at the very least unpopular. Trials and difficulties are not just a possibility, they are expected.
Amazingly though, where many of us see obstacles, those early followers saw opportunity. Notice what Peter wrote to the Christians by way of instruction and encouragement.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
In other words, Peter understood that the way the disciples lived in light of their hope would influence all of life, including the difficulties. Their hope in Jesus would mark a type of life and lifestyle that demanded explanation. Outsiders would have questions about the unrelenting hope the disciples possessed despite their circumstances, compelling Peter to say, “always be ready to point them to the hope we have in Jesus.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” ( I Peter 1:3-5).
What if we allowed our hope in Jesus to infiltrate every area of our lives? And what if that same hope informed how we handled the issues of life—including difficulties, struggles and trials? A hope like that has the power to capture the attention of the hopeless people around us, to make a lasting impression, and to prompt opportunities for us to share Jesus. But let’s take it one step further. What if we didn’t wait for others to notice and ask questions? What would it look like for us to initiate relationships and conversations? After all, we have Jesus, the only hope for a hopeless world.
QUESTIONS AND REFLECTION
- How does your hope in Jesus impact your testimony to others?
- Could someone in your spheres of influence use some of the hope you have? Who?
- Take some time to pray for the person/people you identified. Pray for God to open opportunities for you to share your hope with them.
- Share with those close to you, or those in your MC, what you learned this week and what you plan to do about it.