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I no longer do so, but there was a time when I served in full-time ministry, and the majority of that work was done in the context of the university campus, initially as the Director of the Louisiana Tech University Christian Student Center, and subsequent to that as a Campus Minister at Kansas University. For those of you who are unaware of it, Jesus is a die-hard Jayhawks fan. 😉
Though I had completed my studies for ministry, and was thrilled to at the opportunity to put that learning to use, I was completely unprepared for what would greet me as soon as I launched from the starting gate. Over the course of the first two weeks of my new “career” in ministry, three students committed suicide.
I was numbed by that – so shocked I didn’t even know how to respond. It was surreal at its core, the kind of thing you read about as having happened someplace else, far away, certainly not right here on your own campus.
When I was in seminary, I remember one of our instructors talking to us about hope. For him it was just a passing comment, but for me, it stuck. Today, more than 35 years hence, I can hear him say it as though it was yesterday. He said, “You give a person hope, and they won’t jump. Even the slightest hope, and they won’t pull the trigger.”
The world is astute at offering up myriad false hopes, proposed solutions to our sense that there has to be something better than our current state or circumstance. A deceitful society conjures up fantasies and feeds them to our Lemmings’ mentality as we die inside trying to fill a void that can never be filled outside of Christ.
It is a societal con game nourishing itself from, while simultaneously feeding, our inner dissatisfactions. Consider the man or woman who sits for hours plugging quarters into the slot machine. The machine sucks the life and wealth out of her, all the while holding out the promise that it might pay off if she just sits there a little longer feeding it quarters.
We enter sweepstakes and buy into pyramid wealth schemes. We jump at cures for our ailments and march with others in the endless parade of miracle diets which do nothing but drain our wallets and continue to fuel our self-dissatisfaction and poor self-image.
With distorted perceptions, we allow ourselves to be manipulated and exploited, all in the name of hope – hope that it can be different, hope that there is something better than this.
Hope With a Guarantee
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. – Hebrews 7:19, KJV
Biblical hope is not mere wishful thinking – “gee I hope so.” The term ελπις (elpis) denotes an expectation rooted in firm confidence that, though currently unseen, what is expected will certainly occur. It is a firm assurance in the reality of what is coming. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). Those who hope in Christ will never be put to shame (Isaiah 49:23).
The apostle Paul speaks to the church in Colossae of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Holy Spirit of God has been placed inside every Christ-follower, as a seal, an earnest, a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). When everything is said and done, God will be looking for that seal, that down-payment, and wherever he finds it, those are the ones he will be taking home. That’s a rock-solid hope, my friends!
In [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV
The Threefold Hope
The hope we have in Christ is described in three ways in the New Testament.
First off is is a “good” hope. Jesus Christ and God the Father have loved us, “and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16, ESV).
Second, it is a “blessed” hope. We deny the ungodly desires of the flesh, living righteous lives while we look forward “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, KJV).
And third, it is a “living” hope rooted in one of the most astonishing events in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. “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” (1 Peter 1:3, ESV).
So, Take Courage!
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV
If you are in Christ, your hope is guaranteed, your good, blessed, living hope, secured for you by the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. You can bank on it my friends.