Sunday June 5, 2011 | Greg Boyd
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[a] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
Hope can be a difficult thing to hang onto in this world. It seems that our future is destined for some tragic end with every new newspaper. In this sermon, Greg talks about how hope drives us and is foundational for life.
Paul thanks the Colossians because he has heard of their faith and love that sprung from hope brought about by the gospel. For Paul, hope was the foundation by which the Colossians lived their lives, and hope is an important idea to understand. Sometimes, it can be easily misunderstood which can lead to some deep questions about God. In this passage, there’s a sense that everything hangs on hope.
Emil Brunner stated, “What oxygen is to lungs, hope is to the meaning of life.” This statement hits home when it comes to our dreams and aspirations in life. Greg Boyd had dreams of being an Olympic runner when he was 16. He had done very well at his local high school track meets, and had only lost one time in the past two years. When he qualified for the junior Olympics, he dreamed that he would conquer running the mile there as he had conquered the mile at his local track meets. It wasn’t until after that race that he realized his dreams of running in the Olympics weren’t going to happen.
Hope fuels our behavior. When Greg hoped for the Olympics, he trained hard and ran hard. When he didn’t have hope to run in the Olympics, he lost focus and gave up on training. Most people can understand how it feels when a dream disappears. Whether it’s a failed marriage, job, or good health, dreams and hopes can be crushed. Nothing determines the quality of a person’s life more than their hope or lack of hope. This is why it’s so important to understand what Paul was saying in Colossians.
The word in original Greek for gospel was euongelion, and it was a term that was already being used by the Romans. It was used by the Romans whenever they wanted to deliver news that was good from the front lines of battle or from the capital to the ends of the empire. Epiphras used it in a similar fashion when he brought the good news of Jesus to the Colossians.
Epiphras brought the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus fought the battle on our behalf and won. He fought death, sin, and the devil. He won. Because of Jesus, sin is no longer a barrier between us and God. We’re forgiven, and God has set up an eternal inheritance for us. Death, despair, and nothingness are not the last word in our lives or our destiny. Rather, we are part of an amazing, unimaginable story that is beautiful in cosmic proportions. When this good news, this hope, gets on the inside, it can lead to determined lives that bear fruit.
It is important to note that hope is stored up in heaven for us. This doesn’t meant that we only find hope in some far away place. Rather, this hope can’t be touched by the worries of this world. In this world, no place is safe from burglars. We read all the time of amazing items being stolen and no leads. And it seems that even the trustworthy people aren’t trustworthy with our money and resources. When Paul says that our hope is stored in heaven, he’s saying that rust and moths can’t destroy it. It can’t be affected by anything in this world, and it can’t be taken from us.
The other important note about this hope is that it is not wishful thinking or cheap optimism. This good news and the hope associated with it are not some pass through this life with no suffering. Our hope is that this life isn’t the end of the story. Our hope isn’t that this life is all that there is or all that there will be. Our hope is that the ways things are now is not the way they will be one day. It is also the hope that we can change some of things in our lives now to resemble the future kingdom.
The gospel of Jesus brings about the type of hope this world needs. In the face of crises and personal difficulties, the gospel of Jesus is not an outdated gospel. It’s needed more than ever before. As followers of Jesus, we need to remember this hope and believe in it to the degree that people around us see it. It’s not a cheap hope that we bring. It’s the hope that will all creation will be redeemed.