Our Hope is in Our Future Sight, July 2015

Our Hope is in Our Future Sight

Friday, June 26, was a day when many Christians in America lost hope. On that day, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down one of the most important decisions in its history. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court legalized same-sex marriage across all fifty states, stating that individual states do not have the right to decide on this issue for themselves. Most states had already legalized same-sex marriage before this ruling, and the winds of American culture have been blowing in this direction for over ten years, but the Court’s decision has nonetheless jolted and disheartened many Christians in our country. We have been reminded yet again that secularism and the celebration of sin are a fundamental part of our national identity.

The Court’s ruling has weakened our hope in some of the founding principles of our country. We wonder if “we the people” really have much say in major decisions like this one, given the fact that it was made by nine unelected judges who serve lifetime terms. We wonder if our religious liberties will begin to erode away in the wake of the ruling, as churches and other non-profit institutions face possible legal challenges if they refuse to honor the ruling by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The gravity of these issues make it hard to hope for a bright future for America.

This historic move in the legal landscape of our culture has created an opportunity for Christians to state clearly (and demonstrate with our lives) where our ultimate hope is found. Our hope is not in any nation but in the Lord. As followers of Jesus, we have come under the Lordship of another King and have become citizens of another kingdom. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). This moment in our history has given us a great opportunity to state clearly that our first allegiance is to, and our ultimate hope is in, Jesus and his kingdom, not any court or kingdom of this world.

Hope is a powerful thing. Our attitudes and actions and words and lives are driven and guided by what we hope in. If our hope is in money, we will be happy when we have lots of it and sad when we only have a little. If our hope is in marriage, we will be happy when we find a spouse and sad until we do, or delighted if things are going well in the marriage while despairing when they’re not. If our hope is in our country, we will rejoice when things are going in the direction we want them to, and complain when they’re not. What we place our hope in will have a driving force in our lives.

The Bible recognizes the powerful nature of hope and gives us much help on how we can live hope-filled lives. The Bible instructs us to put our hope in God and not in any outward circumstance (Ps. 42:5-11). This is because God created us to know and enjoy him, not the things he has made. He has “richly provided (for) us…everything to enjoy,” but he has also told us to not “set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God” (1 Tim. 6:17). Our hope is to be set fully on God because he is the only One who will endure forever. Everything else will pass away.

One of the best biblical examples of someone who hoped in God despite his circumstances is Job. Job had everything the world could offer. He had a big family, lots of possessions, and great influence in his community (Job 1:1-4). The Lord, however, allowed Satan to take all those things away from Job in order to test his allegiance to God (Job 1:6-2:10). The main point of Job’s story is that, despite his suffering, Job continued to hope in the Lord. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Later in the story, as Job is being wrongly accused by his closest friends, the specific nature of Job’s hope becomes clearer. In one of his responses to his friends, he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has thus been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (19:25-27). Job’s ultimate hope was in the fact that he would see the Lord after his death. In the midst of all his suffering, he knew that God was alive and that he would see him face to face when all the troubles of his life were over.

As Christians, our ultimate hope is no different than Job’s. Our fundamental hope is that we will see God one day face to face. “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2). In the new heavens and new earth, we will “see God’s face” (Rev. 22:4). Our hope is in our future sight of God. For Job, the future reality of being with God face to face outweighed the troubles and suffering and persecution he faced. In the same way, our current circumstances as individuals, as a church, or as a nation, however bleak, must be seen in light of the reality of our future sight of the living God.

May we not give in to the temptation to hope-less-ness. May we “set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13). And “may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).

Waiting patiently with you for the day when our hope will be realized,

Pastor John