The world around us is wrought with pain and suffering. Amidst this reality it can often be difficult to find a sense of hope. To fully appreciate the incomprehensible glory that is going to be revealed to us, we first need to appreciate the full magnitude of the sufferings of this present age. As we engage with the painful news of our world, we turn our eyes to the coming hope that is grounded in the resurrected Christ.
Life is hard. Life is full of pain, suffering, injustice, violence and hatred. Where is our hope? In Romans chapter eight, Paul tells us that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed is us.” But what about the present time, the space and reality that is full of suffering?
Day in and day out we hear reports of tragedy. Even changes in mother nature fill the news. The climate continues to heat at alarming rates. The ice sheets in the northern hemisphere are melting at nearly twice the pace than what scientists predicted they would only three years ago. With the rapid melting of the ice, ocean levels are rising at equally alarming rates. More and more severe weather patterns leave paths of destruction around the globe. Furthermore, school shootings are an unfortunate regularity, terrorist reports are growing more common, civil war leaves millions of children caught in the crossfire and racial tensions are on the rise. Some social scientists say that “America is in the process of coming undone at the seams.” Democracy depends on 2 things: The general population has to have some shared trusted source of information and a shared trust in foundational institutions (FBI, presidency, CIA, Department of Justice, etc.) We seemed to have lost that common trust and it is in question whether or not we could ever get it back. And so, with this disunity, the future of America looks rather dim. In addition to national and global tragedies we struggle with our own personal sufferings. Where do we find hope? Where is our hope?
The early disciples knew all too well what it was to lose all hope. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were suffocating under the power of the oppressive regime of Rome. Rome ruled with terror – terror was their method of keeping peace in Rome. But the Jewish people had read about a messiah who was coming to liberate Israel them back to their original glory. They had a deeply embedded hope that carried through generations, but with each passing generation and no sign of the coming Messiah, hopelessness was setting in.
Then comes along Jesus. Jesus had convinced his early disciples and others that he was the long awaited Messiah. He made incredible claims for divinity about himself. These claims, combined with his supernatural powers, had convinced the disciples that in some mysterious way, God himself was present in Jesus. After three years of ministry with Jesus, the disciples were utterly convinced that he was about to inaugurate a new change, a work of God, liberate Israel and bring peace on earth. The disciples were euphoric with hope! On the palm Sunday all Jewish people assumed Jesus was on his way to kick out the Roman regime. But that didn’t happen at all. Instead, Jesus was executed – executed by the very people he was supposed to overrule! This was the worst way the Messiah was supposed to die. The disciples had lost all hope, they were left in a state of despair.
But then… then three days after the execution, some brave women had gone to the tomb where Jesus was laid and they found the tomb empty. The women ran to tell the disciples and everybody assumes someone had stolen the body of Jesus. Until Jesus starts appearing to people; first to Mary, then Peter, then the disciples on the Road to Emmaus and to all the apostles. For 40 days after the resurrection Jesus appears to people. There has been much speculation as to the validity of the sightings of the resurrected Jesus. Some skeptics argue the disciples were hallucinating. One skeptic even wrote a book on the matter, suggesting that there was a wild, hallucinogenic mushroom that grew on the hillsides of Galilee and the disciples were high on mushrooms! But hallucinations don’t happen for 40 days, certainly not in fellowship!
The reason why the tomb was empty is because God had raised Jesus from the dead! It’s not a hallucination it’s reality. The disciples didn’t understand the magnitude of the crucifixion and resurrection right away, but they would when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. Before too long the disciples came to understand that Jesus brought a different kind of hope, unlike anything the world could ever give. The disciples were no longer anchoring their hope in seeing their enemies defeated and killed. This new hope made them love their enemies! It was a different kind of hope. They had a hope that didn’t depend on things going well in the world, nor did it diminish because things weren’t going well in the world. Why? Because they had seen, on Good Friday, that as hopeless as it all seemed, God had a plan for Easter Sunday. God used the cross to ultimately defeat evil! We live in a Good Friday world, but Easter Sunday has come and is coming. Jesus’ resurrection means that Jesus defeated death, sin and the enemy and all who trust in Jesus will also defeat death, sin and the enemy!
While it looks like sin, death and evil may appear to have the upper hand, they will never have the last word. God has the last word! Keep your eyes fixed on the resurrected Lord, then you can be confident that death is going to be replaced by everlasting life, sin will be transformed into holiness and the reign of evil is going to give way to the glorious reign of Jesus Christ that will last for all eternity.
Under this glorious reign, then we and the whole creation will be transformed and glorified in the same way that Jesus’ body was transformed. When Jesus is enthroned then God’s love is going to define every inch of the cosmos and everything that is inconsistent with that love will be eradicated. When Jesus reigns, we and the whole creation will be participating in the perfect love, joy and peace of the triune God. That dance will never be threated and it will never end! It’s a Good Friday world, but Easter Sunday is coming. Our hope is not contingent upon the realities of the world around us. Our only hope is in Christ crucified and resurrected! This hope is King of all Kings, Lord of all Lord, he is the Alpha and Omega, he’s the liberator, redeemer, and reconciler. This is our assurance and firm foundation! The resurrection proves that God has reconciled humanity to himself and with each other. Every wall of hostility has been crushed! The tombstone of oppression is going to be rolled aside. Joy is going to outrun the sorrow. All shame is going to be eradicated. The sufferings of this present age are not worth comparing to the glory that God has in store for all who hope in him.
But we are not to just sit back, give up on this Good Friday world and passively wait for the Easter Sunday world to come to fullness. No! Instead we as kingdom people are to participating in advancing all creation into her resurrected glory, here and now. The cross reveals the character that the children of God are called to live. We are to put the character of Abba on display for the world to see! We are peacemakers, to enter into solidarity with victims of injustice; we’re called to love all people for all time. The cross is something that God does for us and something that God calls us to. We are to pattern our life after the crucified Christ and put all your hope in the resurrected Christ.
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14 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Hope”
“it’s just a matter of time”? Christ was resurrected over 2000 years ago. How many more thousands of years must transpire before we can ‘actually’ say goodbye to the evil of the world? Do we just try and keep our chins up and wait on the afterlife to have a life? Why is the Kingdom age taking sooo freakin long to get here???
Hi Kevin, I could not resist answering your despaired-filled question even though someone more fit and full of insight might answer later on. (Also English is my second language). I hope I will be filled with wisdom and Holy Spirit in this delivering of answer, and I hope you will test it and find it true. So that is the start of my hopes and then will see where it leads.
When Jesus died at the cross, he won over death. That means every person after (I don’t know about before) have a window in to the eternal. Eternal afterlife compared to maybe 80 years on this Earth. Any specific time is hard to compare by eternity. Some theoretise that God choose a specific time for some holy events (Jesus birth and in the future – Jesus returning) to save the maximal part of humanity as possible that could have/be saved. By his name and example he given us a tool and a divine yet human person to look up to. He showed us examples of how to endure suffering (take the cross) , in the same time he cured a lot of sick people and encouraged his disciples of the time (and probably us disciples of today as well) to continue to cure people in his name (from physical, physological and bad spiritual powers). Jesus also showed us to put down our weapons and show love and mercy. Jesus spoke about a more equal society where both widows, children and poor were seen. Jesus spoke of humility and lifting each other up, to not be eager to love money or other things before humans and God himself/herself. When the light and logos (Jesus) came into the world he came with “peace on Earth and good will towards men”. Christianity is built on the idea and hope that following Jesus, loving God, ourselves and others would (more or less literally) make heaven on Earth (let your kingdom come, your will be done) . God personally choose us to be his tools in this world and to fight the evil we see. Christianity further more says that the devil is the opposing force, the destroyer and seperator. We might sometimes “see” the devil as a light angel and therefore manipulating us to do wrong (as nations, as people, as individuals). The good news is that God already won over the devil on the cross, so the devil “can’t touch us”.
As Christians we do not fight people with violence or meet our enemies with harsh judgements or hatred. Still there is a contradiction in that as we meet people that choose to do wrong and hurt us (or our countries or our loved ones etc.). It is not their fault that they are deceived by the Devil. They as well are victims of an oppression. Yet if God would not let them to choose, he would take away the idea of free will and there would only be predestination. So I encourage you to go do Jesus commandment of going out in the world. To pray for those that choose wrongly, to heal those that is suffering, to speak for those without voice in our society, to meet societal violence with loving words, to encourage your leaders to take the right decisions. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be with you and comfort you in all these endavours and that you will feel what Jesus promised about leaving us with peace when he is gone from Earth (a little while). Pray that God will enlighten you about your suffering and that you can give him/her the control and power over everything remebering that God ways are higher than ours in every way.
And for your own sake I want to encourage you with something that I just thought of myself (probably with help from friends – and a lot of sermons from my home church and Woodland Hills Church). God is relational and he seeks to be in relation with us. Every other relationship there is give’s and take’s. Oftentimes you do not keep count or measure your friendship in diffrent ways.
“Look I lend you 10 dollars, and you given back 1 dollar”. That sort of friendship tends to be sub-optimal and not last in the length. If you try to keep count with God like “I am and others are suffering, and you given me the cross 2000 years ago” I promise you, you will loose. Let God show you his/her ideas of how he want to transform the world and want you to partake in this great revoultion.
Also, when we say Jesus will return it is in an end-time judgement way. Jesus says those that believe in him are in him, like he is in the father and when Jesus is in heaven those that believe in him also are with him in heaven. Therefore you already (if you are a believer) have Jesus here/there/everywhere with you.
God bless and I wish you all the love! I hope God will rise up spiritual warriors to fight whatever mountain you are facing. Pray for a mustard seed of faith 😉
I take comfort in something I heard a long time ago. “If indeed we are going to spend eternity with God, then this world is the closest to hell we will ever get. If on the other hand we will not be with him eternally, then this world is the closest to heaven we will ever get.”
This world has a blend of both, so it is my purpose to bring as much of heaven to this needy world as I can.
Thanks Carol; that’ll preach.
So Andrea; you do not believe that Jesus will ‘literally’ return in bodily form and then set up His Kingdom on the earth?
Thank you for an interesting question. I must say that I think that is indeed a difficult theological question to answer. I am but a layman on these matters and with a love of God. I would love to hear a sermon on this (Boyd 😀 ..?) . Personally I tend to believe in exactly the way you put it, Jesus returning in bodily form restoring earth with heaven and coming with glory and judgement of good and evil. But you actually helped me find another area to develop and deepen my relation with Jesus. Because I haven’t discussed, prayed, thought or read different theories on the subject. I have just believed it is so. However it will become, I am sure God will come to judge evil finally and seperate human kind and all of creation from evil, when the time of free will and choosing God has ended. How it will be in detail is a terrible (for all the ones that might or might not be separated from God) and glorious thing to ponder (for heaven restored). I don’t wish it coming too early or too late but I trust in Gods timing to be just right
Me, on the other hand, hopes it comes soon and very soon 🙂 Hoping Greg will indeed speak on this further in the near future. Thanks for chatting with me sister Andrea
Thank you Kevin!
It is interesting how internet can connect so completly differently geographically located people (sounds like the invention of the phone in my explanation haha!). I liked to discuss with you eventhough you are much better to come to the point of your argument, but we are all differently gifted! 🙂
If you would like to give me any other way to contact you – me or my husband (or both) would probably be interested to have other thought-provoking spiritual questions and answers (or prayer requests) . We are not near to be any experts, but that’s why because when you have a chat like you my brother, you grow in your spirit!
God bless you and your family richly!
Thanks but i have way too many ‘virtual relationships’ already 🙂 You can surely keep me in your prayers!
Great to know, I will try to remember you in my prayers 🙂 you can’t have enough people praying over you! It’s seems in this day and age that (a)social media anyhow isn’t that great of an idea, better to focus on our “irl”-friends anyway!
Amen to that! Thanks
Just a couple of points Andrea and kevin may wish to ponder…not in a negative sense, but what scripture explains.
In relation to to the end of the world system and the return of Jesus…read Mark 13 and specifically verses 32 to 37,
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Of course there are believers who have been slain for their testimony and would perhaps be in a stronger position to seek God’s return and judgement on their persecutors…but we find in Revelation 6:9-11,
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”
Effectively, in one sense, the return of God for a believer could almost be considered unimportant. As a believer is in the Kingdom of God and doing His will, what concern should there be if service is in this kingdom or the Kingdom to come…as Paul says (Phil 1:19-30),
“…for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
Turning to the aspect of Christ’s (physical) return and perhaps tying in the forgoing comments are covered in Acts 1:6-11,
“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.””
While this covers to some extent what you have been discussing, the Incarnation of Christ John 1:14 is important in this context,
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
But we must understand that the Incarnation was not just for the 33 years of Jesus’ ministry on earth but for eternity. Jesus is now a glorified human being at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. This comes through in John 17:24,
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Then, when John sees Jesus in Revelation, we are provided with the description of a glorified Jesus (Rev 1:12:15),
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
John, as a disciple, was well aware of Jesus during His earthly ministry but this was of a different order of knowing Him, with John’s reaction being little different as to how we would react in such a situation (Rev 1:17-18),
“ When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore …”
So the glorified state of Jesus is the destination of all believers (1 John 3:2-3),
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
Paul also raises in 2 Corinthians 3 the aspect of the glory of Moses after he was in God’s presence on Mt Sinai and having to wear a veil as the Israelites could not gaze into his face and states in verse 18,
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
These aspects of glory were also touched on by Greg in his message.
So the utter purity of Jesus is sort by believers (that is part of the salvation/glorification process through the Cross) but the inherent judgement in that purity causes non-believers (that do not accept the message of the Cross) to flee or hide themselves…or persecute the witnesses to the Truth.
While far from a full and complete explanation, I hope these words are of some value in seeking the Truth.
You’ve given me much to process; thanks Peter
Hello; All I can say is since I’ve understood the free will, spiritual warfare, open theism, etc. I been hopeless, I understand in another life time or a return form Christ everything will be restore. But this does not help at all in what I;m dealing with. 7 years of things getting worse, only a miracle could do the job. I cannot get over knowing that just “one word is enough”.