We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. (Colossians 1:3-5a).
Imagine someone gave you a $1 trillion guaranteed trust fund to cash in at a future day. They also made sure that you are given the best medical care and security to ensure that you do live to see that important day. How would you live your life? With confident assurance and less worry about your present circumstances. Indeed you may even be inclined to be more generous because with $1 trillion waiting for you giving away a few dollars is easy!
Our view of the future affects how we live today. Dallas Willard in Divine Conspiracy says "beliefs are the rails upon which our life runs". For the Christian the belief about the future is summed up in one word : hope. Everything we have in God, including our faith and love is rooted in this word 'hope'. It sounds strange because we tend to think of hope and faith as the same thing. In fact faith is believing God for today. Hope is believing God for tomorrow.
Apostle Paul is essentially saying believing God for tomorrow is prior to believing God for today. Unless we are absolutely certain about where God is ultimately taking our life we will lose track of the present. We become lost and discouraged. It can also make our living become a some sort of “points based system” where we live try to grab enough points to make it to our destination. When that happens life becomes one impossible chore.
Certainty is vital in living forward.This is why Paul adds that our Christan hope is stored up for us in heaven. Christian hope is not man made, it is a free gift of God. Heaven is where God's presence is fully magnified! So what Paul really means is that Christian have a glorious confidence about the future that is held and guarded by God himself in his full glory.
And because God lives in each and every Christian in the here and now, our belief in God for the future is held secure by God himself in the here and now. The Christian lives with this future security in the present reality. It is that which enables love and faith to be meaningful in the here and now! Nothing can separate us from the love of God and what he has in store for us in eternity.
This is vital because all true Christians face a strong challenge from the world. The world tells us to live for today. It asks that we care about our needs now. It impresses on us an earth bound perspective as the prime reality. But the Bible says our hope is in heaven.The heavenly focus dominates the true Christian impulse.
And this priority of heaven over earth underpins the love and faith in the present. Without it there can be no sustainable love and faith. More importantly, if the hope is passing and uncertain, the faith and love would be passing and uncertain because it would not be anchored to anything lasting.
Meaninglessness and emptiness flow from a lack of a fixed, certain and eternal future. Two implications from this. First, changing behaviour wont come by taking an earth bound perspective. Secondly, an eternal / heavenly perspective delivers a paradoxical result. It is precisely by looking out heavenly ward that our perspective is refocused. You wont change people or society by pointing them to the possibility of a future golden earth created by human hands. Change comes by pointing to the King of Heaven.
And the only way to encounter the King of Heaven is through the preached sensational good news of Jesus Christ ("the gospel"). This news is that God became flesh and dwelt among us. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against him. And that anyone who repents and turns to Him will have not only have peace with God but also the very Life of Jesus within them as the eternal guarantee of the future.
Question : How does the hope of eternity shape how you live?
Lessons from Colossae : Identity
Lessons from Colossae : Status
Lessons from Colossae : Faithfulness
Lessons from Colossae : Faith
Lessons from Colossae : Love
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013