Monday, 13 May 2013

Hope

The OT prophets contain all kinds of passages dropped in, sometimes in the middle, sometimes towards the end, that speak of HOPE. Hope that one day God will act, will change things, will correct wrongs, will restore.



Is 29:18-21 and 35:5-7 are just two examples, describing acts of God that the people were to wait for, to hope for.

Note that both talk of the blind seeing, the deaf hearing. They talk of those disadvantaged being given help - social justice is as ever not far away. The mute can talk, the lowly lifted up. Notice also in 35:1f how the land rejoices: God's purposes ultimately affect the whole of creation!

An even greater passage is Is 65:17f, which reads much like Revelation. Notice how ordinary life is described: children no longer die young, people have the provision they need in terms of food & lodging. Injustice (others taking it away) is removed. This is a famous passage, known as The Isaiah Vision, and is a great picture of what society could be like.

But hope is hard work - we face many set backs. Patrick Regan in his book 'No Ceiling to Hope' describes this. His work with dis-enfranchised youth gets noticed at the highest level (10 Downing St), yet time after time he sees things go wrong.

So why does he keep going? Because as Christians we are to be hope-filled, and in hoping in God there is no limit to what is possible. We, like him, need to be fuelled by spiritual resources rooted in hope in God.

How do we understand our times:
  • Simply doom - the world is broken, full stop
  • Or Doom with faith enclaves - the world is broken but there is refuge in faith & church. Because the world out there is so nasty we have to protect ourselves with thick walls to keep the bad out.
  • Or God's ability to bring goodness in the bad: like a flower growing out of a crack in the tarmac, God can raise up beauty in the most unlikely of places.
I prefer that last bullet.

How do we understand God's Kingdom:
  • Suddenly putting everything right only at the very end: doom until then
  • Or God working through the church gradually making things better ... until one day we have fixed everything and the world is ready as God's Kingdom
  • Or God breaking-in, growing beauty from the cracks. Such breaking in will bring local transformation that tends towards God's Kingdom, though we don't see it all fully yet.
The last bullet makes most sense to me.

As Christians our view is different to those in Isaiah's day. Back then they looked forward in hope fuelled by Isaiah's words ... but today we are assured of God fixing things because we have already seen it in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Remember what Jesus said: see the signs of the Kingdom - the blind see, deaf hear, lame walk etc.

The Kingdom breaks in now!

Key Qn: [IN] Are you a hope-filled person?

Let God put the hope seen in the resurrection in you - so you can work to see God's Kingdom breaking in around you.

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