Hope And Change

Hope is powerful. When people have hope they are quickened and invigorated to move toward the future. They have a reason to live and a purpose for their activities. Political campaigns tap into this power when candidates offer potential constituents a better life. Years ago Bill Clinton was “the Man from Hope.” Barack Obama promised “Hope and Change.” Most recently Donald Trump promised to “Make America Great Again.” Hope for the realization of the vision of these men inspired millions to vote for them. It moved thousands upon thousands to give up time, energy, and money to campaign vigorously for them. Hope is powerful.

Campaign after campaign our hopes are dashed against the rocks of lies and limitations. There are times that men promise things that they never intended to deliver. There are other times that their reach far exceeds their grasp. Adherents to these hope peddlers are crushed for a while. They despair until the next guy comes along who promises us an even greater hope than the guy before.

Christians have a hope. This hope is not built upon the wispy words of a politician but upon the God, who by his word, created the world. This God who created the world has a plan to redeem it. In Romans 5.2 Paul speaks about the result of our standing in the grace of justification as being able to “boast in the hope of the glory of God.”

Glory is something that God originally gave man and promised him that it would increase. Psalm 8 speaks about how God crowned Adam with “glory and honor,” giving him dominion over all the works of God’s hands, putting all things under his feet. The Psalmist is echoing what God told the man and woman in Genesis 1.28: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Man’s glory was to rule as the image of God. Man would have dominion over his own passions. They would be in line with God’s own desires. Man’s hope of glory was that the world would eventually be filled with people who lived together in peace with a creation that responded to man’s work by being fruitful and beautiful in every conceivable way. Each individual heart to cultures to dirt to the animal world would be subdued but not tyrannized. Each part of the creation with man in the lead would learn to serve the other parts of the creation in order the served would be more glorious.

But man sinned and fell short of that glory (Rom 3.23). Sin is anti-glory. Where there is to be beauty, sin produces ugliness. Where there is to be peace, sin produces strife. Where there is to be humility, sin produces pride. Where there is to be fruitfulness, sin produces barrenness. Where there is to be hope, sin eventually grants hopelessness.

However, Paul says that those whom God justified he also glorified (Rom 8.30). The glory from which we fell short in sin God now grants us through the forgiveness of sins, justification. Our glory, like our justification, is in Christ alone. He is our glory. We are now seated with Christ in heavenly places, ruling with Christ far above all principalities and powers (Eph 1.20-23; 2.6). In him and with him we rule.

But we have not realized our hope of glory completely. It is still a hope, which means that it is still future. There is more to come. Our hope is as sure as the resurrection of Christ himself. God will not fail to deliver on his promises. God gives us this hope to invigorate us to righteousness. The bright prospect of our future shapes the way we use our time and resources in the present. Our hope shapes the way we think and act. What will be true in the future begins to creep into our lives in the present and grow in us.

For us as believers this means that we are energized by our hope so that our lives in the present look more and more like our future selves. Our hope encourages us to endure faithfully through trials (Rom 5.3-5). Our hope motivates us not to submit to the tyranny of sin (Rom 6). We are encouraged through hope to live at peace with one another. We are invigorated by hope to work diligently even when others are despairing all around us because we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Our hope keeps pulling us into the future with the bright prospects of what God has promised. Keep the faith. Keep working in hope. God will not fail to deliver what he has promised.