March 22nd, 2016

Hope for a Desperate World

cross25One of the main characteristics that should distinguish followers of Christ from those who don’t know Him is that we should be people of hope. This reality, is at the core of our mission to share Christ with others. We do not merely offer an alternative religion, worldview, or philosophy. We offer hope to a world desperately longing for it.

This is often forgotten. Our mission is not only to share the message of God’s forgiveness through the death of His only Son on the cross, and to offer them a relationship with God, our mission is also to share the hope that the cross brings and the hope that this relationship with God generates.

No portion of Scripture better captures this than the words of Peter “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

This verse is usually taught this way: “As believers, we need to learn how to share our faith. We need to take training classes and workshops. We must learn strategic passages of Scripture that can succinctly explain the message of the cross. We must do all of these things, because Peter commands us to be always ready to give an answer.”

That really isn’t wrong either. We are called by Christ to take the message of the gospel to the farthest corners of the world. We are to share the message of His love and forgiveness. but this view of 1 Peter 3:15 seems incomplete.

Peter is teaching us that there’s a catalyst in an evangelistic opportunity, a trigger. There’s something that sets the encounter in motion. So what might that be? There’s no better trigger to launch an opportunity for sharing our faith than the presence of hope in our lives.

If we take it as a whole, we find a progression that leads to effective outreach, and it requires more than the acquisition of Bible knowledge. What Peter says is that:

  • We are to live as a people of hope
  • Hope is to mark out our lives as distinctive
  • People living without hope and enduring a hopeless world will see the difference that hope makes in our lives
  • They will ask us where our hope comes from
  • Then, we can be ready to make our defense

They will see hope in us and want it too. They will ask for the reason behind our hope. And we will be ready to give them an answer. Unless our lives are characterized by a true, living confident hope, the distinctive is not seen, and no one ever asks.

We can learn all the verses and techniques. We can be trained in outreach strategy and theory. We can have a passion for the hearts and lives of people searching for truth. But without the evidence of hope in a hopeless world, we won’t show desperate people that we have something different from the despair they already know.

In Christ, we have real hope, not a naive attitude that fails to see the realities of life. At first, the people around us may think it strange, this inexplicable hope that marks our lives as different. But in a world starving for hope, men and women will be drawn to it and to the Christ whose resurrection makes hope possible. Hope and the resurrection are inextricably linked.

Reflection

How can you bring the hope that you have to the surface so that others might ask you where it comes from?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you are the beloved Son given by the Father, the new Passover, the sacrifice offered for the atonement of all, the Suffering Servant, the tormented prophet, and the forsake Israelite of the psalms. Help us to trust in your power to deliver us from darkness, pain, fear, and insecurity so that we might share the hope of your resurrection with those who are hopeless.

Amen

 

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