We do have a hope.
Did you know that?
Not just some ideal, naive idea, not some forlorn concept which isn't really real.
Not a work of fiction.
As Christians, we are part of that hope and have it in our hearts.
Not only that, by the promise of that hope being true and real.
It really strikes me at work how people today are so resigned to the negativity, cynicism and pain of life that they just get on and accept that's all there is. People seem to be resigned to the fact that there is no real hope. People have raised hopes in the past and disappointed, and now people generally have lost all faith that there is any real genuine reason for hope, that there is any chance of true joy, true peace, and true hope for the future. They are so cynical that is not even noticed, its almost part of everyone's DNA.
There is no trust anymore, and such a need for hope, for grace and love.
Even worse is that Christians, the people who have this real hope are themselves affected by it, and are so caught up often with other things we forget the most important ones. We argue who's right and wrong and which denomination is the best, which church is the best and divided over other things that we forget to love, serve, bless, forgive and show people the truth in a way that isn't hypocritical and distorted.
We Christians get sucked in by this cynicism. We downplay the truth of the hope we have, or at least, we water it down. Or maybe we just forget.
Do we realise how amazing this hope is?
We should do.
Are we excited by it? Are we enthusiastic about it?
We really should be.
We have every reason to be.
The thing is you see that there are real problems, real issues which Jesus wants to deal with today and we are the people He's trusted to deal with them. Being a Christian means choosing His values and standing up for them.
A lot of people think Christians are hypocrites, that the church is outdated. Can we not do anything to disprove this?
That’s why living and acting in the truth of this hope is vital.
Not all churches and Christians are like the image that comes across a lot of the time. We can make change where we are. We can make change by taking action.
It starts with each of us individually living out our faith, having integrity, admitting our weaknesses and going to the cross.
Doing it individually and together as individual churches.
It’s not easy, and we won't ever be perfect or get it totally right - but the message itself, and Jesus himself, is perfect and is authentic and real.
Give people a real hope, a real possibility for real change, show them something worth living and dying for that’s real and alive and true and this can happen.
Barack Obama is doing so well in the US Presidential campaign and gathering support because he is offering people what appears to be real hope for real change and a break from what's gone before.
Something different, something fresh and new.
Jesus did that 2000 years ago, and we need to make that message as fresh today as it was then. Communicating it in a relevant way, with modern metaphors and testimonies. And above all, by our daily lifestyle, our attitudes, perspectives and choices.
A faith and hope that stands and takes the lead against injustice, oppression, and the things that are wrong in this world. That stands against the values of this world. That presents a real and true alternative to the consumer culture we live in, yet helps us to deal with living in the culture that we find ourselves in each day.
First though we need to believe the truth and the promises of God for what they are.
God is not some ambitious politician out to make a name for himself, but the Lord and creator of the universe with limitless power, grace and love, for us. His promises are true. His hope is real. Let’s live like it is.
Not that life will be easy or we'll be perfect, but even in suffering we know we have someone we can turn to. We have something to hold on to which gives us the strength to persevere. We have the hope and the promise of something better.
Not that we are perfect, but that we are in a relationship where we can be shaped, moulded and transformed. That the mistakes we make can be rectified. Where we can deal with the issues of life and our mistakes in a place where there is forgiveness, grace and support to move forward - in community with both God and fellow Christians. That we know a God who loves us despite our failings, despite our mistakes, despite our problems, despite our failings.
Finally, that we have a promise that Jesus will always be with us, that He has given us the gifts to deal with any situation, that He loves us so much He gave His life for us and has been through worse than we can ever imagine.
The real hope and promise of perfect love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
The hope and promise of eternity with Him.
This is no idealistic fantasy. This is real. This is true. This is fact.