Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spiritual Hiccups - Hope

In today's Psalm it says, " 'Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up,' says the LORD." And the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the congregation in Rome says that despite suffering and hardship, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Both Paul and the psalmist look at situations that seem desperate and say, "We see God at work, and we know that God's will finally wins out.

But while the Bible speaks of the certainty that God will set all things right, that God will indeed redeem and restore creation, many Christians seem to thing that the world is hanging by a thread and if we aren't careful, evil will triumph. A great number of Christians seem to think evil is much more powerful than it actually is. It makes me wonder if they know the line from Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" which says, "The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him."

And the cross itself speaks of the impotence of evil in the face of God's love. If the cross is the greatest attempt to thwart God that evil could muster, and the cross is somehow the instrument of our reconciliation with God, then evil's worst deed only furthers God's plans. It would seem that evil has no chance against God.

I talk to a lot of church folks who seem very worried about the future. They worry that the church's best days are in the past, and they are afraid for the church they love. The Church certainly faces plenty of challenges in a culture that is rapidly changing. But I wonder if these challenges don't push us to reexamine the source of our hope. Is our hope in the religious structures and institutions that we have constructed? Or is our hope in the promises of God who brings light out of darkness and life out of death?

What is it that motivates our lives of faith? It seems to me that Christians who trust that God owns the future, and that God will indeed redeem all creation, discover a hope that allows them to embody and enact that coming Kingdom, a hope that can only be known through faith.

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