In this post I introduced my mini-series on hope. For each post I work of the following description:
Hope is going somewhere good, by the work of Jesus and for the glory of Jesus.
It’s amazingly important, and wonderful, to insist that Christian hope is for the good. Our future is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
Post number 1 in this series might have felt a little neutral, or unemotional. That was deliberate, because I wanted us to look ahead and to think well about the certain future we have. And I knew that post number 2 was coming!
As we look ahead and think well, we rejoice (Romans 5:2). We bless our Father in heaven who have given us this living hope (1 Peter 1:3). We’re instructed to rejoice in our hope (Romans 12:12). Our hope is what we boast in (Hebrews 3:6).
As we look ahead and think well, we love and long for the future. We love Jesus, even though we don’t yet see him (1 Peter 1:8). We desire this future so greatly that our eagerness groans (Romans 8:23).
The Christian future – our hope – is so good that of course we want it, and of course we are disappointed that it’s not yet ours. To be with Christ is better by far, even when there are good works to complete here today (Philippians 1:23).
Putting this into practice has two parts.
Firstly, and most obvious, we rejoice and sing and praise God in prayer. We love what lies ahead of us, and engage fully in this good expectation. When Christians sing in joy, it’s a reminder of this good future and it again teaches joy to our hearts.
We must not wait for joy and thanks to well up to perfection before we express them. We instead express our joy and thanks as part of discipleship, training ourselves in godly longing.
Secondly, we are to flee from dead and deathly joys. Rejoicing in the transient hopes of this world will strangle our desire for the real hope we enjoy in Christ. The downward spiral of greed is really joy in ‘things’. The addiction of watching porn promises happiness or some kind of emotional connection, but it’s a false promise.
Too much love for job and career, too much joy in the commendation of neighbours, too much time spent on hobbies and interests … these all kill our boasting in the glory that is to be revealed.
Amid all the tools we have to avoid sin, here is one of the greatest: cultivate joy in the hope of Christ. Do it, because Christian hope is going somewhere good.