Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Living Hope

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3

When I was a little girl, our family of four bravely ventured on a trip from our home in Connecticut to visit relatives on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We Zines weren't big travelers, so this trip was a very big deal. It was summer. We would drive for three days, stopping at hotels each night. Exciting times.

The first day didn't go too badly. We drove as far as Washington, D.C., and took a quick tour of the sights. The second day was not as pleasant. Margie and I had already blown through the new toys my mom bought for the trip. We were tired of being in the car. Poor little Margie got carsick-- and we had to make several stops for her to be sick on the side of the road. And it was HOT. The south was in the middle of a record heat wave. Our car did not have air conditioning (few did in those days) and the constant humid, hot air blowing in on us didn't do much to cool us down. By the time we hit South Carolina, every one of us was wilted and desperate to get out of that car. Dad pulled into the first decent motel and got out to rent a room. They were full up. That began a nightmarish hour of going to hotel after hotel, to no avail. Every one we tried had no room at the inn. Finally, an angel disguised as a hotel clerk got on the phone for my dad and found us a place to stay. When we wearily pulled up to our hotel, we just about kissed the ground of its parking lot.

The next morning, Dad took a new tactic. Using his road map as a guide, he called ahead to the next planned stop location and made a reservation. We traveled that day in the security of the knowledge that no matter what happened on the road, a swim in a hotel pool and a cool, soft bed awaited us at the end of that day's travel. It made all the difference in how we faced another day's journey.

Peter wrote about a "living hope" that we have in Jesus Christ. It is part of the package that we received at the time of our salvation. First Corinthians 6:11 tells us we were justified. This term is a legal term, meaning we were declared innocent of all unrighteousness. We were also sanctified. The Greek root for this word means set apart for a new relationship with God. Finally, Romans 8:30 tells us we were glorified. Usually we think of our glorification as something that will be done for us in the future. Yet when Paul wrote about it in Romans, he used a verb tense which denotes an action already completed.

In other words, the living hope believers have for glory is a done deal. Already accomplished. Checked off the list. Our name is written in the book of life, in indelible ink (Rev 20:12). We have a guaranteed reservation for Heaven, with all of the benefits that living there will entail.

In fact, God has done more than just give us a promise of that eternity. He has marked us as His, by sending the Holy Spirit to live in each believer. His living presence is like a down payment on a property someone intends to purchase-- earnest money-- given to demonstrate the seriousness of the buyer. Ephesians 1:14 tells us the Holy Spirit is given as a down payment of our inheritance, with a view toward our coming redemption. Someday we will be changed, from perishable to imperishable bodies. We will reflect the glory of Jesus Christ perfectly. The old nature will be gone forever. No longer will we struggle with sin or its destruction. And we can bank on this hope because the Holy Spirit has been given to us to guarantee its fulfillment.

Knowing this should impact how we conduct ourselves in the journey.

I wonder if that is why Peter called it a living hope. It is not only a hope which affects our eternal future. It is a hope that has a tremendous influence on us right now. Being secure in our destination makes the trip through this life bearable. Hope makes all the difference.

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