April 19, 2014 in City

Faith and Values: Easter weekend a reminder of the importance of hope

Steve Massey
 
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this column

Three times a month, community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The column appears Saturdays and features artist Donald Clegg, of Spokane, retired Methodist minister Paul Graves, of Sandpoint, and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

Hope is powerful.

Hope’s presence gives perspective and purpose for life. Hope’s absence guarantees confusion, pessimism, even despair.

Do you have hope? Does hope influence the way you live?

This weekend, Christians around the world are celebrating hope. Our hope is that God has made a way for imperfect people to relate to him. He sacrificed his own perfect son, Jesus, to satisfy his just judgment for sin and then raised Jesus from the dead.

Jesus is alive today. And a Christian’s hope is to one day be in heaven, with Jesus, and enjoy life eternally – life without sin, sickness, shame, sorrow or death. This hope is ours not because we are perfect people, but because by faith we’ve attached ourselves to the one who was and is perfect for us: Jesus Christ.

This is our hope.

Do you have this hope? Does this hope influence the way you live?

It’s a wonderful thing that Easter is an annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection, because we Christians have a tendency to lose sight of our hope. We get lost in the weeds of a fallen world and start living as survivors, not victors.

The cost for this loss of focus reaches beyond us. People around us suffer, too.

The Bible tells us that our most powerful influence among those who don’t know Christ is not our preaching, nor our outward piety, but our hope. In a world without hope, the true gospel life shines like a beacon at midnight.

“… If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it,” says 1 Peter 3:15 (New Living Translation).

Don’t miss the message in those few words. When we Christians forget our true hope, when we attach our hope to the wrong things, we end up living the kind of life no one would bother asking us about anyway.

It pains me that the world sees in so many Christians a cynical attitude about the future, a combative and condemning spirit toward those who disagree with us and a lack of joyful endurance in life’s inevitable trials. It’s no wonder so few of us are ever asked about our hope.

Christian friend, does your hope in Christ influence your life so practically, so tangibly, that others ask you about it? Or have you attached your hope to the outcome of your latest trial, the moral reform of your community or the notion that life will progress according to your expectations?

The Bible is all about Jesus, and therefore, it is all about hope. It reminds us that true faith in God’s promises results in a hope so powerful that it radically transforms lives.

Hopeful people live to please God, not themselves, obey him despite the cost and exert themselves to help others hear God’s call to repent and trust in Jesus. Hopeless people cannot be bothered with such things … they’re just trying to survive.

I know this not merely by observation, but by personal experience.

In scripture, we’re given a record of victorious Christians whose hope was so strong, so certain, that they ordered their lives by God’s priorities, even when it meant suffering ridicule, financial loss, family tension and the lack of temporal comforts.

Their hope was not in righting those wrongs; their hope was in Christ and his heaven, their true homeland.

Let this Easter weekend remind us that we, like them, are “looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland,” Hebrews 11:16.

Let the resurrection of Jesus remind us that our hope is not a mere wish, but a certainty awaiting fulfillment.

An empty tomb proves it.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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