Bring me home, Lord!
Have you ever noticed that some of our Christian hymns and songs have a certain ‘escapist’ tone to them? I won’t name a specific chorus or song for fear of retribution, but I have become increasingly aware, in recent times, that some of the tunes we sing in church talk a lot about how great it will be when we go to heaven… but they leave us empty in terms of what God is doing in and through us in the meantime.
Future hope IS an important Christian concept
Now, I should say that hope for the future is one of the key tenets of the Christian faith. As believers we enjoy certainty about our eternal destiny, and we ought to be thankful for this. But to make our faith ONLY about that is to sell God short… He also has a mission for us in the here and now!
In Romans 15:13 we read a wonderful benediction from the Apostle Paul, which displays the all-encompassing hope we have when we trust in Jesus Christ:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The God of Hope fills His people in the present with “all joy and peace”
First off, we learn that God fills us with all joy and peace in the present. Later in the passage Paul mentions the power of the Holy Spirit, and it’s this indwelling Holy Spirit that is the conduit for God’s supernatural joy and peace – the peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and that derives from the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, our hope for the future ought to inform our joy and peace and present – what immense peace we ought to have, as people who are certain about our destiny! Just as Christ could endure the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2) we press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward (Philippians. 3:14).
As believers, we ought not just be people who – with gritted teeth – look to a future hope. For we can enjoy a present hope, with all joy and peace, freeing us to live courageous and generous lives now, no longer weighed down by fears about our own health, wealth, and security.
The God of Hope enables His people to “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
Which leads to the next aspect of an all-encompassing hope as described by Paul: our God of Hope enables us to “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Just as our hope fills us with joy and peace, it should also drive us towards love and service to those around us. It should “overflow” out of us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The hope within us is not fundamentally about us. It doesn’t exist just for our own happiness and wellbeing. This hope is meant to encompass those around us and, indeed, the world around us! Why? Because the heaven we look forward to is not some ethereal, spirit life, but a renewal of this creation… the physical cosmos in which we now dwell. Revelation 21:1-5 paints a beautiful picture of the “New heaven and new earth” that we can look forward to as believers in Christ.
Because we have a concrete hope for the future, we should be compelled to not only look forward to the new heaven and earth, but also to demonstrate this heaven and earth to those around us – we should offer glimpses of glory to those who do not yet know Christ, in the hope that they will be compelled to seek Him and know Him.
Let your hope overflow this Christmas
At Christmas time, we celebrate the beginning of this grand story of hope for the future as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to earth to begin this renewing work, seeking to see humanity restore its relationships with God, with self, with others, and with creation. But the work He began, He has now entrusted to us (2 Corinthians 5:19) to pursue on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:13).
As believers, Christmas offers a golden opportunity for us to let the overflow of our hope in Jesus impact the lives of a watching world. We have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that there is a better world to be had under the headship of Christ, so that we can declare the gospel of the Kingdom of God with power and credibility.
Let your hope overflow. Be hope this Christmas: baptistworldaid.org.au/be-hope