Summary: In Christian hope there is no person so lost he cannot be changed by the grace of God and no situation so desperate that God is powerless over it.
Title: A Vision of Hope in a World of Despair
Text: Romans 15:4-13
Thesis: In Christian hope there is no person so lost he cannot be changed by the grace of God and no situation so desperate that God is powerless over it.
In the last few weeks I have read three articles that spoke specifically of the American Dream:
1. In an October issue of Time Magazine Fareed Zakaria published an extensive essay titled: How to Restore the American Dream.
2. The latest edition of YourHub (December 2, 2010), under the Your Voice Column, Jack Van Ens contributed his essay which begged the question: Which American Dream?
3. The December 2, edition of the Denver Post ran an essay by Froma Harrop from the Providence, R.I. Journal-Bulletin titled: Redefining the American Dream.
For many immigrants the statue of Liberty is the first thing they see as they arrive on the eastern shore of our country. Lady Liberty is a symbol of freedom and personal liberty. However when we think of “chasing the American Dream” I think we have other things in mind and the notion of freedom also carries with it the hope of prosperity and success, i.e., a better life or the good life.
• Some of the early immigrants came to America to escape religious persecution and to find the freedom to exercise their faith.
• Some, like the Amish, came to America to preserve their culture.
• Some have come to escape the ravages of war. If you saw the Killing Fields you understand why the Cambodians streamed into our country after the Pol Pot regime purged the Cambodian populace.
• The Swedes and the Irish fled disastrous crop failures and potato blights and imminent starvation to come to a land of hope.
In nearly every instance people felt despair and hopelessness so they left their existing circumstances and made their way to America – a place they perceived as a place of hope.
Over time that hope has come to mean a comfortable middle class existence. But today that way of life is threatened.
Zakaria’s article noted, and this is a real time happening, how Steven Rattner, who has worked in restructuring the automobile industry, worked to bring GM Motors and the UAW together. The union agreed that in starting up the new plant they would allow workers to earn $14 per hour, which is half of the normal rate of $28. If the workers would work for $14 per hour GM would build the plant.
But here is the problem. Workers in GM’s Mexican operations make $7 per hour and are just as productive as American workers. Why would a business in the business of making money pay workers $28 or even $14 when they can hire equally capable workers for $7 per hour?
The American worker who earns $14 per hour will earn around $35,000 year which is considerably below the median family income which is around $49,000. The Mexican worker earns approximately $17,000 per year.
And so what is the fate of the American worker? They say the jobs that have gone overseas are not coming back. And it’s Christmas time.
There is a cloud of hopelessness in the air.
But ultimately, the economy is the least of our worries. In fact, when life becomes unbearable because of illness or disease, or tyrannical governmental oppression or social or cultural denigration, or when our children are starving, and or when the circumstances of life become so desperate that we will, as some have, despair of this earthly life, we will long to be with the Lord.
Jesus posed the question once regarding a man who was essentially pursuing the “American Dream.” He asked, “What does it profit or gain a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
God wants us to live well in this life but more than that, God wants us to live well in the next life. And to have no hope of eternal life or heaven is a desperate situation.
In fact Paul stated, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” I Corinthians 15:19
The bible reminds us and asks us to remember a sobering truth: “…Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Ephesians 2:12-13 and 19
Without Christ we would be up the creek without a paddle. Without Christ there would be no light at the end of the tunnel… and if there was a light it would be a freight train signaling our impending doom.