Summary: What is the hope that lies within all Christians, the hope people are looking for? Grace. This message looks at how to live out grace and create a grace filled culture.
Today is the last week of our series an elemental church. Hopefully, you are starting to see more of what God is calling us to and what he wants to do among us and through us as we move forward as a church.
The past two weeks, we have been using 1 Corinthians 13:13 as our launching point. This is what it says, So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
This week, we are going to talk about being a voice of hope. Hope is an interesting thing isn’t it? We use that word a lot in our world, I hope she likes it. I hope that the Steelers will win this year, all of us our hoping that, even now with 5 months until the NFL season starts. Some of you might think, I hope the Cardinals have more than high school players this year. I hope I get that for Christmas, I hope this, I hope that. How about when things are going bad? We hope that our pain will end, that the hard times we are going through or a friend is going through, what do we say? I hope things get better for you. In all those instances, what did they have in common? They might not happen. She might not like you, the Steelers might not win, I might not get what I want, the hard time I am going through might continue.
So with that in mind, what does it mean to be a voice of hope? What about when we don’t feel very hopeful in our own life, how we can help others find hope?
There is a verse in the book of 1 Peter that I want to look at. It is 1 Peter 3:15. it says this, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is within you.
So here is the question, as a Christian, what is the hope that we have within us? The short answer I think is Jesus. The more I thought about this during the week, I kept coming back to one word, grace. One author describes grace as “the completely undeserved, loving commitment of God to us.”
The past two weeks we talked about living by faith and being known by love. I talked with different people who said, “I don’t know that I can do those things. I don’t know that I can have that kind of faith or love like that.” On our discussion blog someone said, “We fail at A, B and C. Jesus was like such and such and we’re not. Try harder. I never had the sense that we should "live up to what we have already attained" or that we could actually DO what we’re called to. Instead I walked away with a sense of guilt and shame. Without a real sense of hope that we could change.”
The more I thought about that statement this past week, I thought, he is right. That is how I feel so often in my life. And then it hit me, that statement is right if we are the hero of the story. If I am the hero of the story, there is no way I can have that kind of faith that I would die for being a follower of Jesus, there is no way I can love others the way Jesus did, laying down his life, being a servant to all. If I am the hero, that is impossible. But, and this is where grace comes in, I am not the hero of the story. As cheesy as this sounds, Jesus is the hero of the story. I’m getting excited now, now I’m preaching, look out.
But we should look at that passage we looked at last week and feel a sense of the impossible. When we read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:48: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. We need to scratch our heads and not being able to figure that out. Because we are not the hero of the story, Jesus is.
If you have your bibles, you can turn to Ephesians 2. if you can’t remember the order, I use an acronym, go eat popcorn. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. That is how I find it.
In Ephesians 2, verse 1 it says: 1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.