Published November 28, 2017

Paul's Epistle

"I hope you have a great Christmas season!"

How many times have you heard that? In common parlance, we use the word "hope" in the same way we use the word "wish" – as in, "I wish for you a great Christmas season."

But as Christians, the "hope" that we have within us has ultimately more substance than that. Not just a vague wish or desire for something, Christian hope is, as one scholar noted, a "sure and confident expectation in God's future faithfulness and presence." Our "hope" is real and tangible, based on the great and unshakable faithfulness of God to keep His promises.

Unfortunately, the world is full of hopelessness. Every day the news brings stories about people who demonstrate their hopelessness through crime, substance abuse, deep despair and even suicide.

But there's an answer!  Christian "hope" is the antidote for all of the hopelessness we see all around us in the world. Yes, all of it! And it's never more obvious than during the Christmas season. Perhaps that's because the hopelessness that's rampant in our world so obviously contrasts with the joy people see (or should see) in Christians.

But the good news is that that hopelessness actually opens the door for us to share the hope that we know — the good news, the Gospel — with those who don't have it. It's the "hope that we have as an anchor of the soul" and which is "both sure and steadfast..." (Heb. 6:19). For the true Christian, nothing can shake the hope that we have, no matter what comes our way. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing that can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" ( Rom. 8:39) — and that God-sized love is the foundation for our rock-solid hope.

It's what the world saw after the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), at a service for the victims, said of the survivors, "It's clear they are people of deep faith, and that that's what sustains them and gives them hope, even during dark times like this."1

Our hope is based on the faithfulness of God, Who "has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." (1 Peter 1:3). Our hope is alive as the promise of eternal life (Titus 1:2). Indeed, Christ Himself is "our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1).

We need to share that hope with the world, boldly. As Paul puts it, "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech..." (2 Cor. 3:12). And we should, too.

That hope should be something that so obviously transforms our lives that people take notice. And that silent witness opens the door to sharing the Gospel. That's why Peter tells us, "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."(1 Peter 3:15).

Karen Peck Gooch recently told me, "If there's ever a time when we need Jesus, it's now. And our nation needs the Lord. Our world needs the Lord, and Jesus is our only hope. We're down to the wire. Hands down, Jesus is our only hope."

And that hope is offered to everyone who will accept it. In fact, it's the theme of the current very popular song from Karen Peck & New River called "Hope For All Nations." As the song says,

    "The world is so hungry, but we hold the bread of life.
     Surrounded by darkness, but we know the name of the Light.
     In a day so divided, we know the love that unites.
     Jesus, Jesus, He is....

   "Hope, Hope, Hope for all nations.
     Hope, Hope for every need.
     Hope, Hope for the life that's been broken.
     He's always been, forever He'll be...
     Hope, Hope, Hope for all nations...."

Fully realize, fully comprehend, fully grab ahold of the great hope that you individually have as a Christian. Hold onto it regardless of circumstances. And share that Hope with all who need it – which, actually, is everyone.

- Paul

PS: Do you have any short examples that you would like to share about ways that you share Christ during the Christmas season? Let me know.

1. New York Times, Nov. 12, 2017, accessed online.
2. "Hope For All Nations," written by Lee Black, Benji Cowart, Karen Peck Gooch, Christian Taylor Music BMI, Word-Howie Cowie Pub ASCAP, Karen Peck Music BMI.  First verse and chorus.

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