Do Christians really know what “Christian Hope” is?

Do Christians really know what “Christian Hope” is?  In a word – no.  At least all to often the answer.

“Most of we Christians are blind to the truth of who we really are, and so are afraid to enter the valley of the shadow of death to find the light beyond it. Our hope is that we’ll find it in the next life and so remain powerless in this life, yes?”

from “Waking Up: To Who You Really Are (If You Dare)” by Ted Dekker

Do Christians really know what “Christian Hope” is?I really like reading Ted Dekker.

Although – sometimes it’s just so hard realizing that what he says is just a bit too true.

Like this one.

blind.

afraid.

the valley of the shadow of death.

light.

hope.

next life.

powerless.

It’s only two little sentences.
But it’s got eight things that we probably didn’t want to think about.

Ouch.

Blind (to Christian hope)

Mt 13:10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

Mt 13:11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

Mt 13:14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

Mt 13:15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Apparently it wasn’t supposed to be exactly easy.

We need to do more than just see and listen.
Translation – sitting in church and going through the service isn’t enough.  Having seen and heard – if we really understand, then there’s going to be something other than just sitting there.

You may remember when Jesus would say things related to this:

Mt 13:14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

Mt 13:15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Obviously, this “blindness” has nothing to do with the condition of our physical eyes.

Afraid (to find Christian hope)

The Resurrection

28:1-8 pp — Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-10

Mt 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

Mt 28:2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

Mt 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Mt 28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

“Do not be afraid” seems like God’s way of saying “Hello”, especially in the Old Testament.  
In these verses from the New Testament, we see Jesus first actually saying “Greetings” – followed quickly by “Do not be afraid”.

It appears that seeing God up close and personal – for whatever reason – brings out fear.

It’s not like Jesus / the Angel of The Lord wants us to be afraid of Him – otherwise He wouldn’t keep saying don’t be afraid. But we are.  Legitimate of not (apparently not) we are afraid.  We need to get close enough to actually feel the fear, and then get over it, in order to actually be close to Him.

As Christians, we read about things like “do not worry”.

Do Not Worry

6:25-33 pp — Lk 12:22-31

Mt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Mt 6:28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

But do we really “see” the message?

Running away at the first feeling of fear isn’t going to accomplish the goal of having a relationship with Jesus.
We also need to get to the next step –

the valley of the shadow of death (where Christian hope can be found)

Ps 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Ps 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
he leads me beside quiet waters,

Ps 23:3 he restores my soul. 
He guides me in paths of righteousness 
for his name’s sake.

Ps 23:4 Even though I walk 
through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me.

Yeah – that’s pretty close – and that’s pretty scary.

Or is it?  I experienced the valley of the shadow of death a couple years ago.  It wasn’t scary at all.  Not even the tiniest bit of fear.  It was in a hospital.  I’m scared to death of doctors, so there should’ve been lots of fear.  But there was none.  You can read about it in God – is it time for me to go home?.

It also requires some degree of hearing and seeing to get beyond the normal response to someone we’re afraid of holding a rod and a staff and feeling comforted by that image!

This isn’t easy at all.

The deeper we go into this journey, the more likely we are to want to turn around and run back to where we came from.

Or – as Dekker points out – just put our faith on hold – stop listening so closely, stop seeing so clearly, and hope we’ve gotten far enough that we’ll be OK in the end. (Yes – pun intended.)

light (result of Christian hope)

Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

We begin to see why it’s so hard.

In this fallen world, the darkness can look deceivingly “good”.  Peaceful.  Unless we’re the victim of something seriously violent and dangerous, we tend to think that the easy / safe way out of this life is to do nothing to rock the boat.  Lay low.  Stay out of trouble.

Clearly, staying out of trouble, for most of us, is easier than staying in the light that seeing and hearing would draw us into.

We forget that following Jesus is supposed to result in a transformation.  We’re supposed to become more Christ-like.  Or maybe, we do remember, but don’t want to be transformed.  As in what Paul wrote:

Living Sacrifices

Ro 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We also forget that, if we really do want to be transformed, we need help.  The kind of help David asked for.

Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

We need help searching ourselves, because it’s too easy to lie to ourselves.

And we need help transforming ourselves, because it’s too hard to change by ourselves.

hope (real Christian hope)

Ro 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Ro 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

But we don’t wait patiently.  Life has taught us that instant gratification is better than waiting.  Or so we think.

We want what we want – and we want it now.
And if we can’t have it now – then for most of us – waiting isn’t an option, so we take what we can get now.

And we put our seeing and hearing on hold – and hope for the best.  Not realizing or remembering what the best really is.

The Shepherd and His Flock

Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Later.

In the next step –

next life (part of what Christian hope is about)

Mt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Mt 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

Mt 25:44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

Mt 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Mt 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Yeah  – we put our listening and our seeing on hold.  We didn’t rock the boat.  Instead, we did the “easy” things.

We hoped for the best. 
Actually, we hoped that we had done “good enough” to be able to get the best.
A rather ironic way to look at things – doing the least to get the best.
And for many – an unfortunate choice.

For many – the next life won’t be what we’d hoped for.

We didn’t actually listen – or actually see.
We didn’t walk in this life with Jesus.
And that left us –

powerless (without Christian hope)

Ac 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Ac 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We put things on hold – we didn’t get what we hoped for in the next life.  Why not?

Because by putting everything on hold, by seeing and hearing but ignoring those things we saw and heard – we rejected Jesus – we rejected the Holy Spirit.

It’s so sad.

So many didn’t see or hear.
But we did.
And we pretended not to – we ignored the presence of God in us.

And so we were powerless.
Powerless in this life.
And we will be powerless in the next as well.  Because we’ll be with the others who rejected Him

Conclusion

Jesus never said anything about listening to Him or watching Him.

Far from it.

He said “Follow me”.

That’s where our hope is.
Not in merely listening to Jesus.
Or on merely watching Jesus.

Our hope is in following Jesus,
Even if that means through the valley of the shadow of death.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


the quote and info on the book are at amazon.com — //amzn.to/2a2MeMk

Please leave a comment or ask a question - it's nice to hear from you.

Scroll to Top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close

I