Hope, Not Hopefulness
Scripture Text – 1 Peter 1:3-9
Many of us would like to feel that, in some way, sense can be made of life. As we move through the maze of givens and unexpected we call life, we wish we could find an assurance of some sort that what we’ve known and been about has meaning; further, we hope that our dear ones who come after us can chisel through the barriers to similar meaningfulness in their lives. These desires are related to what we might call “Christian hope.” We want to join with those who affirm, “In Christ, Christians have hope.” Do we grasp the full meaning of such Christian hope?
Some of us see Christian hope as related only to the end of time and the life beyond. Because of God’s power and love, there is a “pretty good chance,” so we think, that “things” will all work out in the end. This perspective isn’t entirely off base, but there are problems with this approach. Christian hope is more than expecting everything finally to come out in the wash. Christian hope has something to add to every day we live. It is both a present reality and an attitude about the future. To treat Christian hope as only a probably, in the future tense, is to make it merely hopefulness or wishing. Hopefulness is “optimism or courage in the face of bad news” or else hoping but not knowing whether or not something will come to pass.
Christian hope is an attitude of assurance that God prepares a way and place for God’s people when life as we now know it has passed. Also, Christian hope is an attitude of assurance that God is present in the lives of God’s people now to bring meaning, wholeness, and peace through divine love even when the world is in despair. And, Christian hope for the world is that God, and God only, can and will overcome the inhumanity of mankind and all that results from man’ inhumanity.
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