Hope: The greatest story of all time
Beyond what you see on the page is another story inside our spirits, a story of hope.
Hope itself is the biggest story of all time, and yet the Creator of the world already has written the ultimate account. Suffice it to say that a sufficient headline size does not exist to declare the enormity of the Son of God dying on a cross to save us from our sins.
Hope cannot be counted, defined or photographed. You can’t buy it, yet nobody lives well without it. It’s close to the core of what it means to be a Christian and a key component of the church community. Many struggle to define it, but it may be one of the Bible’s easiest doctrines to identify.
Whether a person has a desk in a corner office downtown or a sleeping bag under a freeway bridge, every person wants a reason to go on, a motivation to live.
Enduring hope pervades biblical teaching. From the rainbow over Noah to all of us under the reign of Christ, from the Promised Land to the promise of heaven, from offering up a sacrifice in the tabernacle to offering up praise in church, hope is the core thread and the common bond.
Churches are, in a sense, distribution centers of God’s hope. Sharing our hope with others should not depend on soaring Sunday morning attendance, but on faith in the ever-present biblical promise that “I will be with you.” Hope rises out of a relationship with God, not out of a rising budget or a growth trend. There’s a limitless supply whenever two or three gather.
When we base our hope on programs, building additions or a preacher’s ability, we put too much weight on the sand. But when we let our relationship with God and the promises of Christ fuel our congregational hopes, we find a way to survive. In many cases, we thrive.
The favorite Bible verses of young and old generally focus on hope, whether we find strength in, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” or in “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Whether we can quote Isaiah 41:10 or Romans 8:31, we cherish hope. It’s the antidote to discouragement and frustration. It counters our sense of loneliness and isolation. Hope can make the difference between leaving church on Sunday with a “What a joy to be in the fellowship of the saints” or an “I’m glad that’s over.”
When hope drawn from God fills our individual soul and permeates the atmosphere at the local congregation, it’s not long before others find out about the people who have hope. We’re not saying hope makes churches grow, but that hope is what we all want, and it’s readily available because of what God has done in Christ for all of us.
Hope is absolutely critical, entirely indispensable, centrally biblical and eternally available. Hope is remarkably relevant to both the modern and the post-modern, to people of every race, to Christians of all generations.
Our desire is that behind all that we report, readers will see a hopeful people who draw their strength not from what they do, but from what almighty God already has done for them.
Oct. 1, 2007