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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. - 1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
There is a great difference between appreciating something from afar and experiencing it up close. Seeing an image of a painting may be beautiful, but it doesn’t spark the same level of awe as standing in front of the painting itself, taking in the intimate strokes and vibrant color. Listening to your favorite band or song on your iPhone may be enjoyable, but it holds no comparison to the energy of seeing them live. We cannot know the full reality of something until we fully experience it, and faith is no different.
As we begin a new series about themes woven throughout the Bible, perhaps there is none as central as hope. It is the essence of the gospel and the invitation of Jesus. But because of how common the word has become (“We hope our team will win,” “We hope the weather will be nice,” “We hope we’ll find a parking spot…”), the depth of our understanding is diluted. What is hope, really? And what makes our hope significant?
The most hope-filled people I know are those who have experienced significant pain or grief, and I imagine you could think of some of your own examples. This may be because if we are largely self-sufficient, we have no perceived need for hope. And what a tragedy to miss our own need.
I love the vibrancy of the language in this verse—we have a new birth into a living hope. And while that means we have a hope to look forward to, we also have a new reality to live into now. Jesus did not die so we could coast through life and consult Him in particularly difficult circumstances. Jesus died so our lives could be completely new, completely different, completely full.
...and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT)
I am something of a spastic movie-watcher. I get exceptionally invested and react dramatically—I can usually be found in a fetal position in my theater chair. But I am also a movie re-watcher. When I find something I love, I happily will watch it many times. My reaction, though, is never as dramatic on my second or third viewing. Because I know what happens, I enjoy the movie differently; I pay attention to smaller artistic details or note the exceptional acting or pick up on foreshadowing in the writing.
It is an often-used comfort (and reality) that our hope is Heaven. And it is! But just as knowing the end of a movie changes the way we watch it, knowing our victory has already been claimed can change the way we live. Our view of Heaven, and hope, is too small if it lies only in the ultimatum of our physical death.
The language in this verse highlights our inheritance; it draws on the idea of us as God’s adopted children, and, in that, we are “his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:18, NLT) But how often do we live beneath our privilege as victorious, loved, blessed, protected children—the holy people of a mighty King? I believe that is the difference hope makes. We will still encounter hardship (we are guaranteed it in John 16:33), and we will still experience the humanity and emotion of circumstance. But the way we respond and live day-to-day changes when we live into the royal inheritance Jesus died to invite us into, and the substance of that is hope.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. - 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
I managed my college coffee shop, and the main skill I gained from that experience was crisis management. We were constantly out of stock of something, the espresso machine needed fixed once a week, the register malfunctioned, the fridges broke down… something was always going wrong. My entire job was handling one problem after the next.
Have you ever felt that rhythm in your life? Or, worse yet, in your faith? I certainly have. I am regularly convicted that the focus of my faith -- or even everyday life -- can easily become problem-centric with God’s help here and there, rather than God-centric with surrounding circumstances.
This passage highlights a genuine faith as it is refined through the reality of trial and difficulty, bookended by a tone of rejoicing. And this is the option hope gives us: That our life is not about whack-a-mole-ing our problems, but about rejoicing in our present and coming abundance. Hope does not demand the absence of pain or frustration or disappointment. It makes it bearable, worthwhile, and redeemable.
Hope changes the rhythm of life we live in. For me, this hope means I frequently have to ask myself, “Am I seeking God and His character more than I’m seeking His answers?” And sometimes I have to take a step back from whatever it is I’m asking for or praying about (which is great and fine—Scripture tells us to ask Him for things!) to simply be with Him.
Take time to refocus. To live deeply in the freeing gift that we are made for more than crisis management; we are made to experience the goodness of a relationship with a caring Father. Spend intentional time with Him today, thanking Him for all He's doing in this season of your life.Share Tweet
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. - 1 Peter 1:8 (NLT)
Despite my valiant attempts to become Taylor Swift as a teenager, with little dedication to or talent for the guitar I took so many lessons for, I sadly lack any musical talent. However, I am friends with and I work with lots of musicians, and I love hearing their passion for it. At times it may feel like another language to me, but when I hear someone gush about something they’ve invested incredible time and knowledge into, I develop a greater understanding and appreciate it much more deeply. When someone embodies a passion or character trait well, we get a clearer picture of those things by proximity.
If you’ve been reading these devotions or meditating on this week’s message and wondering, “What does hope look like?” or feeling removed or confused by it, you aren’t alone. I’ve asked that question a lot of times. The truth offered in this verse doesn’t initially offer much comfort to that; we may read it as however removed we may feel, if we simply believe in God, joy and hope will magically appear.
Yet the first words of this verse offer a better insight: We may not see Him physically, but we can know Him deeply. And the character of God embodies all that hope is. The best antidote for a lack of hope is not willpower to muster more of whatever we imagine hope to look like; it’s to move in closer to the God who in His very nature is hope. In being near to Him, we not only understand hope, as I understand the beauty of music through the passion of musicians, but we get to experience it as we trust Him.
For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:9 (NLT)
If you have ever volunteered anywhere from children’s ministry to high school students, you have probably been asked a lot of bold questions about Heaven you didn’t know how to answer. This innate childlike curiosity speaks to something deep within us that desperately wants to know or understand a concept that has sent the brightest minds spinning since the beginning of time (thus my blanket answer for my own high school girls is always first, “I don’t know.”). Perhaps as we grow we become less inclined to wonder, to ask bold questions. Our hearts and spiritual lives might benefit from some curiosity.
A group of us on staff are currently reading (for fun, because we are nerds) “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright. The goal of the book is to challenge the way we look at Heaven, and how we allow that outlook to change our day-to-day. Wright says, “Jesus's resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from Earth to Heaven but to colonize Earth with the life of Heaven.” In short, our salvation is for now as much as it is for Heaven. As this verse implies, we are currently receiving what will redeem us forever. Particularly in a very broken world and in the Information Age where we are constantly flooded with the knowledge of that despair, there is no better news than a Kingdom of Hope coming now.
Just as children and students have questions about their purpose and where they can find hope, most adults are constantly asking the same things in different ways, and our lives and the way we live into the reality of our salvation will give them the answer. The world is offering plenty of answers as well; we can become easily convinced that our hope lies in politics, pleasure, individualism, wealth, comfort, and innumerable ideologies. Yet our ability to become reflections of the Gospel of Hope is the best, most beautiful story we have to offer, and it invites those around us to step into our current and coming home.
Hope is not just powerful for the redemption of our personal lives, but for the redemption of the world and the glory of God. Pray and ask God to infuse your life with a new sense of hope. And to cause your life to so reflect Him that hope grows in the people around you as you share the hope you have because of Jesus.Share Tweet