The past couple of months have shown me how important hope is in our lives. Without hope life becomes meaningless for many people; so meaningless that life can become optional or even undesirable to them. Paul tells us that there are 3 key things in life; faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. I'm not going to argue with Paul, but I'm seeing that without hope there is no strength to love or to feel the love others are extending to us.
I'm discovering that when we don't feel close to God, when we believe that we cannot trust God with our present or our future, or when we can't even believe in God any more, our hope gets lost; it fades away like sunset on a misty evening, it's kind of there and then it's not. When my hope for today and the future has to depend on what I am able to do or control, it can't survive, otherwise why are we in the situations we're in where our hope has already taken a beating and is in danger of disappearing, or has already disappeared.
Jesus' invitations to "Come follow me," and "Repent and believe," are having a greater impact on me the more I reflect on them. Jesus says, "Come follow me," inviting us to "Watch me and hear more about my Father and who He is." "Repent and believe for the kingdom of God is near," God is coming close, Jesus is reassuring us, that He's already here in Immanuel, Jesus, God with us. His kingdom is one of safety, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, mercy, peace, wholeness, healing and hope because God is in control. It does take trust to repent because that's a heart change leading to life change kind of a call and I also see for so many who have been hurt that believing can be so hard when hope is lost.
More and more I see how important the church community really is in our world today; a place where God's kingdom values are being lived out and practised, where our heart habits are being shaped by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, where people who have lost hope can find a place with real live physical flesh and blood people who are living out hope looking to Jesus and who He is and what He's done for us, being his body here until he comes back again. Titus 2 speaks to this,
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
This is a living into the future way of living that happens right now, living into a future with hope, a future where Jesus' kingdom ways will shape everyone and the evil that takes away hope today will be gone for good.