What does hope look like?

It’s the difference between going forward passionately and going backward or simply giving up. It is a conviction that things are never as bad as they seem and that there is always a “way”. Hope looks for the good and rejoices in it as opposed to the bad and wallowing in despair. Hope believes that we prepare the way for the King to return to something better than he left.

Isaiah writes the following and it is echoed several times in the gospels:

“A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”” (Isaiah 40:3–5, NIV84)

We don’t abdicate our place in this world or abandon the efforts to make it a better place. We work for the coming of the King.

Have you experienced the preparations that we undertake in this nation when royalty visits? We want to be at our best and outlandish amounts of money are spent to present the best version of ourselves.

Capitalism justifies itself Christianly, by claiming that we extract everything that we can from this planet and use it for our benefit. The rich just keep getting richer at the expense of creation itself and the poor. In the end, sometimes spoken and sometimes presumed we live as though we need not care for what we have been given by God because it is all destined for destruction. And there is untempered truth in all of this but it does not justify callous disregard for the good of others or our temporary home.

Some believe that the Christ that we anticipate will come when things get bad enough. What if the opposite is true? What if He will return when they get good enough? (1 Thess. 5:1-3) Make sure you read the bracketed portion of scripture. Peace precedes His coming. What if we hasten His return by making this world a better place rather than leaving it to its own devices?

Personally I would rather engage in making things better, not worse by intent or neglect. We are purveyors of Hope. We are the “light of the world” not the blight of the world. God has called us to bring beauty. Did you read that in Isaiah’s words?

He speaks of the Glory of the Lord being revealed as we engage in making things better. Read it again.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed …”

Could we lay aside the darkness of despair for the sake of that Hope? It’s not just the Christmas experience that suffers but everyday life itself when we allow ourselves to be the bad news bears. Whatever else the gospel is, it is not bad news. A bad news gospel is not gospel at all. It is just pessimistic propaganda that breeds discouragement and robs people of Hope.

I feel as though I am constantly reminding people to look up. Square your shoulders back, lift your heads and look up. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of the moment in which God wants you to live for bad experiences of the past or a pessimistic paradigm that paints a discouraging picture of the future. We are expecting something good, not something bad.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” (Titus 2:11–15, NIV84)

Thanks for joining us at CLC on this first Sunday of another wonderful Advent season.