Summary: how the hope of the resurrection permeates our lives and thinking
April 7, 2002 1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
How do you view your future? The future of America? If you would look at our country from a technological standpoint, our future would seem to be limitless. We are living with more gadgets and advances in America than the world has EVER known. You would think that with these inventions we would be living in an age of optimism and hope. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that people just aren’t very optimistic these days. With the war going on over in Israel and Afghanistan, the recession, and the social disaster of marriages, you can hear and see an overall mood of doubt and pessimism in people’s voices and faces. Instead of being hopeful, America is full of people who flip each other off, cut each other off, and live with a scowl on their faces. It seems that hope and happiness has died. But today, Peter assures us -
Jesus Lives, and So Does Hope
I. Because we know our inheritance will not spoil
When it gets down to it, it’s not because of the war or the recession that we are living in an age of doubt and pessimism. In Ecclesiasties 3, a more seemingly “pessimistic” book of the Bible, Solomon wrote, I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. The burden that God has laid on men is that everything is beautiful, but only “in its time.” The beauty of a flower only lasts for a week. The grass is only green during the summer. The beauty of a snowfall only lasts so long, and then it melts away. But God has set “eternity” in the hearts of men, the desire for things to last. We buy dishwashers, stoves, washers and dryers to LAST. We don’t like things that break down. But the problem that everything in this life has a life span. Cars wear out. Gadgets become old. Love goes sour. Computers become obsolete, and even our bodies slow down and grow old.
And so Americans who live with the newest and the best equipment in the world, still aren’t happy and optimistic. Why? Because they have “eternity” in their hearts. And the things and dreams of this life are not eternal. When Enron went down in flames, and their retirement accounts with it, it brought all of the news firms to address the question - “what is a secure retirement plan?” Everybody seems to be worried now that their beloved retirement accounts are going to crash and burn like Enron did. But Enron is just one example of the problem with life. You can have thousands saved up and it will last only a few months in a nursing home. You don’t have a guarantee on health. You don’t have a guarantee on wealth. Marriage don’t always last til death do they part. The well known saying goes, “the only thing sure in life is death and taxes.” It’s because of their OUTLOOK that Americans are pessimistic.
Is that your view of life? Have you grown pessimistic toward work? Marriage? Children? Church? Do you think God wants you to live your life that way? Imagine if you had an employee that came to work every day with his face downcast. Imagine for instance, that the newscaster came on and said, “good morning, it’s supposed to be sunny today, but I doubt it will last long. I’m sure the wind from the north will cause a lousy day anyway.” If any of you have worked with someone with that kind of attitude, it isn’t fun. Not only is your life then miserable, but so is everyone else’s around you. Does that sound like the attitude of someone whom Jesus calls the “light of the world” or the “salt of the earth?” That’s not the way God wants us to live. If you live without hope, then you are living without faith. There’s no excuse for that kind of outlook on life, especially within Christianity. But we do it all the time.