Missing Hope–A Christian Reflection

Many Christians are familiar with the three great treasures spoken of in the Pauline epistles–faith, hope, and love–and with the corresponding conclusion–that the greatest of these is love. I fully agree with Paul on this–yet I think it’s also important not to let faith and hope fall by the wayside. So it troubles me that so many modern Christians seem to be missing the hope piece altogether.

I have a few reasons for saying this. Firstly, I think many Christians have the faith piece down–we may argue and disagree over what exactly faith is, but most of us would claim to have it. Likewise, I think most Christians would claim to be acting out of love–we’ll disagree over what true love is, but we’ll generally claim love. Hope, on the other hand, seems to be barely discussed at all.

When hope is discussed, it is generally expressed as trust in Christ, and his promises. Yet I’m not sure that that is really hope in the fullest sense. Especially when the message is that if you don’t trust in Christ, you have no reason to hope. When people are told that they can only have hope of salvation if they believe in Christ, they will often be provoked to fear or despair rather than hope. They may come to faith, but they will joining out of fear, not out of love or hope, and that is not the Gospel to me.

There seems to be another worrying trend in Christianity, especially among the young adults of my acquaintance, to be cynical in the extreme. Convinced that there can be no real change until Judgment Day and the re-making of heaven and earth. Is that what Christian hope really is? Sitting by and waiting for God to solve everything?

I would argue the answer is a resounding “No.” Throughout Scripture, God has demonstrated His plan relies heavily on working with and through human beings to acquire change. We are not bystanders or placeholders–rather, we are active participants and agents in the divine plan. We are strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit, and we all have a role in the Body of Christ.

There’s a school of thought that argues for always viewing the world through the lens of love–and when interpreting another’s action, to interpret it in love. This I find to be an amazing view–because I think we find when we look at the world that way, that there’s a lot of beautiful hearts out there, an awful lot of good people. If we can recognize that others are mostly good, that most people have good hearts, then I think we can begin working to find ways to solve our problems together.

There’s also the point as Tolkien points out through the character of Gandalf that evil is not held at bay so much through great acts of power, but through small, everyday acts of kindness. When we realize that, we realize that there is tremendous reason to hope because even the smallest acts eventually reach critical mass and put evil on the run.

So my challenge to all Christians is this: choose hope. Recognize that you are a servant of God, and that means you have the power to change the world for the better. You don’t have to do it alone–the Holy Spirit and your Christian brothers and sisters are there to work with you. Yes, God will come one day, to judge and transform the world–but until that day comes, there’s every reason to accomplish as much good as we can in this world. Indeed, theologian N.T. Wright argues that every good thing we do in this world, in this life, will carry into the next in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. Know too, that people are not as bad as some would have you believe–there is every reason to believe that people are mostly good, and it merely the banality of evil that makes them seem bad. Yet most people have good hearts and that too is a reason to hope. Remember, as a Christian blessing flows outwards, and we are not cursed by outer things–so let’s spread our blessing, and through us redeem the whole world to God’s bosom.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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