Hope: looking forward with confident expectation.
As I scour the scriptures to build a theology of hope, I find that hope is always linked to Jesus’ death on the cross. It is his death that secures my future. I am guaranteed eternity with him in heaven and I look forward to it with confident expectation.
12In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.Ephesians 2:12-13
The assurance of heaven is one of the most concerning aspects of any religious belief. As far as I know, no other belief system offers life after death as a free gift from God. Only in Jesus do I find the outrageous offer of eternal life simply because I believe Jesus died and rose from the dead. There is no work to be done, no penance to perform, no levels of goodness to scale, no rituals to perfect — it is the confident hope I have because I am a child of God.
I imagine we all look to retirement at some point in life. It might be when I get close to that magic number and I wonder, “will I have enough to retire?” Or perhaps I started saving at an early age so I would be assured I could retire and enjoy the fruits of my labors into my last years. But what if someone offered to provide for my retirement in its entirety, I only had to accept the gift. Any concern for my future would be taken care of completely. How would that change how I live day to day? Would I still work to save for retirement, just in case? Would I check in every so often to be sure the plan was still in place? Would I look for other ways to secure my future, in case the gift didn’t come through?
It seems to me that is how I look at the hope of eternity — as if it isn’t really going to happen. I sure wish it would but who actually knows. What if I disappoint the giver? What if he removes the offer from the table? What if I am not good enough?
We forget that the gift of eternity isn’t based on behavior and it surely wasn’t offered because we were good enough. In Romans 5, Paul reminds the reader that while we were still sinners, Christ died. He did it way before we were even concerned about being good enough. (Romans 5:8)
It is imperative we understand that our eternity is signed, sealed and will be delivered at the proper time. We don’t need to concern ourselves with it. When we are united with Christ, our future is taken care of forever. So, I pray this prayer for you today…
18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.Ephesians 1:18