Are We Proclaiming a False Hope?

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Our world aches for a soul-reaching peace that transcends all that’s frightening and hard. They yearn for unshakable hope that life won’t always feel so painful: that good awaits. People long for—need—everything we have in Christ, but I wonder if we convey that truth accurately, fully, and often enough. is it possible our words unknowingly point to a hope rooted in the temporary—the end of a virus, a better economy, or a transformed political system?

A few years ago, when our daughter spent eight months in North Carolina, she became painfully lonely. It wasn’t long before deep depression took hold. Needing to know how best to help her, I sought guidance from a counselor who reminded me of the power of hope.

To persevere through the hard, our daughter needed to anticipate what lay ahead. So we shifted our conversations with her significantly. While we did talk about coping tools, we focused primarily on counting down the days until she returned home. We discussed how we would celebrate when that happened; there was so much to look forward to. Her hope for home supplied the grit to endure.

This is true for our faith journeys as well. Our hope doesn’t lie in a better life today. Scripture tells us, numerous times, to expect the opposite. Many of us know this, but do our words reflect this truth?

Consider Paul’s letters to ancient believers living in dark times far worse than anything most of us will ever experience. He routinely reminded them to remain focused on heaven, where their true citizenship lay. His heart was firmly set on the joy that awaited all believers. His anticipation was contagious.

This is clear from his praise for the Thessalonian believers: “We give thanks to God always for all of you … remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV, emphasis mine).

Significantly, these believers came to faith amidst great persecution. After preaching in their city for a mere three weeks, Paul was driven out by a riotous mob. I imagine he was devastated at having to abandon the new believers in their fledgling understanding. Considering all they would likely suffer, they probably dominated his thoughts. His greatest fear? That the gospel message hadn’t truly stuck. But then he received word that these baby believers were thriving! “The word of the Lord sounded forth” from them, like a glorious, life-giving trumpet (1 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV). 

What enabled these persecuted, fledgling Christians to flourish during such a dark and horrific time? It was knowledge that their pain wouldn’t last forever. They maintained an undeniable, unshakable, and indistinguishable hope in heaven.

We have the hope our world needs. May we proclaim it clearly, loudly, and often, because “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV).

That’s not to say we shouldn’t ask God to intervene or that we shouldn’t long for reprieve today. But may our proclamations regarding our eternal hope ring louder, because that’s where our ultimate hope lies.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain and inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away reserved in heaven for you.  1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

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Are We Proclaiming a False Hope? – encouragement from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What are you anticipating in the future that gives you hope in the now?

Proper Framework  

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“According to His great mercy [He] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

Parent-Teacher conferences were always a challenge when I was teaching. By the end of the first marking period, my students had made themselves known. The honeymoon was over. The good, bad, and the ugly had all come to light.

Through the years, I found that a positive parental response to what I had to share depended on the delivery. So I always began the meeting with three positive things I saw in the child: maybe an excellent work ethic, or a soft heart toward God’s Word; things that went beyond behavior to the content of their character. I wanted parents to know I noticed the positive and had sincere concern for their child’s welfare. We were on the same team.

Of course, every child had areas that needed improvement. But when delivered within a carefully laid framework of the positive, parents received the negative as constructive. They were more than willing to join forces with me in guiding the child to positive change and growth.

Proper perception is dependent on a proper framework.

Paul sets up a proper framework for us in his letter to the Romans. He wanted his readers to view their present struggle within the proper framework of hope. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NASB). Hard times are an inevitable part of following a suffering Savior. But when understood within the context of the larger picture, they have meaning and purpose.

What is the big picture, the framework in which we should contextualize our struggles? Our hope of glory. “[We] groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body… we hope for what we do not see” (Romans 8:23b NASB).

Life on earth is no picnic. Struggle is a part of reality, especially for those who have believed in Jesus Christ. We have several enemies working against us. There is the ever-present Satan, tempting and accusing us at every turn. There is the world, deriding us as we hold to the truth and follow Christ, both things which they have soundly rejected. But the enemy within is our own flesh. Paul describes the struggle between good and evil within us in Romans 7. We struggle. We fail. Again and again. There are days when we wonder: is it worth it?

It’s easy to lose sight of the forest when we are surrounded by the trees. The struggle may be what’s easily seen at the moment. But there is more than what presently meets the eye.

God has promised an unbelievable future for those that believe. He has adopted us and given us a hope: we will share in the inheritance of His Son. Someday our flesh will be redeemed. It will finally fully match the new life God has created in us. Unimaginable glory will be ours-we will share in the glory of Christ!

He has left a deposit, a guarantee of this glorious future: the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Our future is secure.

In that context, our present struggle becomes tolerable. When viewed within the kind intentions of God, knowing what he has already done in the past and will do for us in the future, the pain suddenly pales. We follow him willingly through the hard, knowing the framework of the big picture.

After all, it’s exactly what Christ did. Philippians tells us he “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Why? He understood the bigger picture, the reality of what was not yet seen: “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NASB).

Future glory. The promise of God. The framework makes all the difference.

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Proper Framework – insight and encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What part of God’s framework is the most important to you?