sermon follow-up: people of hope

Hope. Is there a word that’s shrunk more in meaning these days? We use it as a synonym for “wish,” “fat chance,” and “good luck with that.” But real hope is huge; hope is more than cosmic in proportions, it’s “God size.” How big is your hope? If your hope isn’t as big as God, your hope and your God are too small.

What we Christians need is big hope. Hope big enough for every day and all that comes our way. To find that sort of hope, we need wisdom from above.

“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world.” (Col. 1:3-6 CEB)

The hope Paul talks about here doesn’t have so much to do with our character, disposition, or perspective (e.g. – “I’m hopeful”), as it does with the content of this hope and the fact that it is perfectly defended and protected (i.e. – “the hope reserved for you in heaven”).

In other words, this hope Paul says we have as Christians isn’t a mere “wish” or “dream,” but a “reality,” a “certainty.” It doesn’t ebb with the tide of our emotions, but is tightly held onto by the hands of heaven. It’s not so much about something going on within our “person,” but is about the “Person” who makes heaven, “heaven.” Or to put it yet one more way: while hope is often described as something we have, here it’s described as something God has (i.e – He’s keeping for us).

Now what is it exactly that God is keeping for us in heaven? The answer to that question is pretty much what the rest of the letter to the Colossians is about, but for now all I want to focus on is this single thought: our great hope is secure with our Savior. That’s a thought we cannot repeat to ourselves too often: our great hope is secure with our Savior.

Let me encourage you to talk with God about this hope right now. No doubt you’ve talked many times with God about your many “hopes” that seem so frail and insecure. But, when was the last time you talked with God about this hope of yours that he has secured – and keeps secure – for you? Imagine: if you talked with God about such, how might it impact your perspective of everything else in life?

Find out.

is it really kindness?

For about a hundred year we have so concentrated on one of the virtues – “kindness” or mercy – that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages to have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy – for every Christian must reject with detestation that covert propaganda for cruelty which tries to drive mercy out of the world by calling it names such as “Humanitarianism” or “Sentimentality.” The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy; it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.

from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis (as recorded in A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works, p.282)