Living on the other side of the world, our family often wakes and begins our morning catching up on the news from our home country. By skimming Facebook, Twitter, and other electronic news sources, we identify the central news stories quickly. Honestly, there are mornings when John and I look at each other and wonder, “What in the world is going on over there?”
Our hearts truly ache as we read about the pain and hurt we see inflicted day after day.
Because of our line of work, we cannot comment in a public or specific way about the things we read. However, what I can say is that as a result of the loss of hope and the pain and the sadness that this reality brought to my heart, I decided to ask the Lord to reveal to me what it meant to be a person of hope in this hopeless day and age. I believed the Lord could encourage us to become people of hope – perhaps in ways we had not yet considered as followers of Christ. As I have studied the hope found in Scripture, it is my belief that being a person of hope is the only way we will survive this faith-stretching time. I don’t want to just survive, though. I want to be a person who demonstrates the hope of Christ in a way that is inspirational and life-giving.
I want to thrive as a person of hope.
My study of hope took me to Colossians this morning. These are the words of Paul to the Colossian church:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.
New International Version, Colossians 1: 3-6a
The background story of this small, house church was that its Believers were being bombarded with false and misleading teaching about the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The philosophy of the time was to turn to and rely upon humanistic solutions. In addition, religious syncretism was prevalent at the time. Syncretism is the merging of diverse belief systems. This movement rejected the biblical revelation of God through His Son Jesus Christ. While in prison, Paul wrote a letter to recognize the Colossians’ blossoming faith. He sought to encourage them to remain true to Jesus Christ. He gently but firmly asked them to rebuff any misguided teaching that would lead them away from the faith, hope, and love of Jesus Christ.
As I read about the church in Colossae and its challenges, I determined that similar bombardments assault our hope as well. In addition, I noticed something striking about hope that I had not observed in Scripture before this point.
The hope that the Colossians had was a stored-up hope.
But, what is that exactly? And why is a stored-up hope important to us? Can we have it, too?
There are many truths and blessings to glean from this type of hope. It is a hope that is offered to us in this hopeless world.
First, a stored-up hope is secure.
As believers, we can constantly draw upon the infinite reserves of the grace of Christ. We are free to live fully for Christ and in so doing live our faith in sure confidence. We have great security because we know our future is in Heaven – not here. We understand that our time on earth is temporal. Thus, we are free to love others well – living out the greatest commandment to love God and to love others with generosity.
Second, a stored-up hope is a future hope.
This is an important truth for the Believer. Yes, we are able to enjoy the hope of Christ in the here and now because of the Presence of Christ. However, this stored-up hope remains a mysterious, invisible, and even, hidden entity because it has not yet been fully revealed in our lives. We haven’t experienced the full expression of the ultimate hope we have in Christ because we remain earth-bound. There are amazing, glorious treasures awaiting us in heaven – and they are bound to the stored-up hope that is reserved for and waiting for us in the Kingdom of God.
Third, a stored-up hope in Christ always produces love.
The life of the Believer is distinguished by three principles of grace: faith, hope and love. A follower of Christ’s faith and love arise from the hope of the Gospel. It is a present and future sight that the Believer holds fast and exhibits always. This love is for all – regardless of race, culture, age, gender, social class, educational level, or creed. All people may experience the love of Christ – especially through those of us who have so generously received this love in Him. We are without excuse. As Christ followers we extend His love to all!
As a result, if we are continually drawing from this stored-up hope, our lives will be distinguished by our faith and our love in Christ.
As I shared, I was and I remain discouraged by those who claim to be Christian, yet seemingly do not aspire to the hope of the Gospel. They seem to have forgotten that the life of the Believer is one of faith, hope, and love. Instead, there is seemingly more attention and more effort being made towards self-generated solutions for earthbound securities, protections and enrichments – often at the expense of others. If the goal is to live well on earth, that would make sense. However, as followers of Christ, we understand that the earth is not our home – we have a future, eternal home – and we live with this goal in mind. Earth bound security is not what we are about.
We are about love – pure, simple, and life-giving.
Friends, I want my life as a follower of Christ to be one that is distinguished by the grace of Christ. This is the stored-up hope that I draw upon, live into, and live toward. Yes, we have access to and can one day attain this stored-up hope. I am dedicating this year to plumbing as much as I can about the hope that is available to me in Christ and to living into this amazing reality. I’m not doing this for myself alone – but for any Believer who would like to join me and show the world that being a Christ-follower is solely about the faith, the hope, and the love we have in Him.
I don’t want to miss that mark as I strive for this eternal goal ahead of me – to love, love, love my God and to love, love, love others.
Yes, that’s me.
That’s the stored-up hope I have in Christ in this hopeless world.
Is it you, too?
Keathley III, J. Hampton. Background on Colossians. bible.org. https://bible.org/seriespage/background-colossians. Retrieved 13 Aug 2017.
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