We live in uncertain times. It seems that the world is heading into a greater time of instability than the current generation has experienced before. And it’s on that note, that so many felt that 2016 could not end sooner, in hopes that 2017 might bring better news and better days.
We hope that the weather gets better. We hope for happier times. We hope things improve. But hope, without action, can just be empty notions. You can hope to get a job, but you also have to put in work. You can hope to lose weight, but you have to put in the effort. The hope for the future, doesn’t just happen. It needs action.
And sometimes, when we think of God, we imagine that he is some far off notion, some empty promise that may or may not happen. Are God’s promises for the future, an empty promise?
I think of Revelation 21 –
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.
How amazing it is to hope for a time when the pain and suffering will end, where peace endures eternally, and there’s the majesty of dwelling wholly and perfectly with God.
This hope, in times like this, can often feel like an impossible dream. But the reality is God has already put in the work to make this hope a reality. When he gave himself for us, he conquered death and sin’s future effects – meaning this is not an empty hope, but an eternal promise. God has already done the work, that will make this hope a reality.
The truth is this : because of God’s action, Jesus’ sacrifice, we have the hope and promise of eternity with God.
This promise of God, this hopeful eternity, does not absolve us of living life today. The question then is, why work or strive for goodness if God has already worked out the solution in the end? That sort of thinking has led too many Christians into a life of apathy and indifference. There are too many believers who are happy to claim the victory of Christ, and simply wait for the world to end.
Christ’s victory, which gives us hope, is sealed for us by God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, for us to live today. We have this amazing opportunity to live Christ’s adventure here on earth today. Whilst we live on earth, we have the daily opportunity to know God’s love, grace, power, and strength in the difference circumstances we face each day. Likewise, we are his ambassadors of his truth, victory, promise and hope to those around us. And that reality is expressed in both words and deeds – the proclamation and power of Christ.
God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, is his Emmanuel to us, here and now. It is what guides, leads, convicts us each day. It affirms and explains the words of the Bible to us, so that each day – in our work, in our homes, in our schools, we take part in God’s great adventure for us.
The worst believer is the kind who doesn’t take part in the life of Christ – who is deaf to the Holy Spirit, numb to his prompting, and blind to God’s workings.
To be a believer in 2017, is a call for us who have received God’s action in Christ, to be eager participants in His continued work today.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.