Monday, December 22, 2008

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 (Hope)

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;
constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” –1 Thessalonians 1:2,3a

Rarely is the subject of hope brought up in the teaching of Paul where it only applies to the nuts and bolts of the second coming or the hereafter. Instead, hope is the reason Paul gives to persevere in the present difficulties the believer faces. Here Paul clarifies some basics about the future that awaits Christians, (that the dead in Christ will share in coming kingdom and that the arrival of said kingdom is unknown to all) but uses this teaching to remind the believers to stay strong.

This is not just the case with Christian hope; hope of any kind functions in a temporal-behavioral way. We can only hope in the absence of what we hope for, and we behave and believe in accordance with the hope we have. Christians have been promised a future of perfection, where the world as it was meant to be will exist. Suffering and sin and evil will no longer rule. People will live forever in a way that they have been designed to live and we will be fulfilled.

Based on the hope of that future, the Christian is encouraged to live well now in the face of all the evil and suffering we observe and even face today. We can endure the injustice and evil in this world because we know that a better future awaits and they way we live in this world will impact that future. Not whether or not we experience that future; that is dependent not on what we do but what Christ has done. The way our behavior affects heaven is in whom else will be there. God has decided that His message of hope will be delivered by those of us who already believe. And our actions often speak louder than our words.

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