Summary: This Advent Season, as we look to the birth of our King, may you look for and fill your life with opportunities to live out the audacity of Genuine Christian Hope!
The Audacity of Hope, I Peter 1:13-23
When Honorius was emperor of Rome, about the year A.D. 400, the great Coliseum of Rome was often filled to overflowing with spectators.
These had come from far and near to view the state games. Part of the sport consisted of watching as human beings battled with wild beasts or against one another until one or the other was killed.
The assembled multitude made Roman holiday of such sport and found its highest delight in the death of a human being. It was on such a day when the vast crowd was watching the contest that a Syrian monk by the name of Telemachus stood up in the vast arena.
Telemachus was torn by the utter disregard for the value of human life and so he leaped into the arena in the midst of the gladiatorial show and cried out, “This thing is not right! This thing must stop!”
Because he was interfering with their pleasure, the authorities gave the command for Telemachus to be run through with a sword, which was done. Thus he died, but dying he kindled a flame in the hearts and consciences of thinking persons.
History records that because of this within a few months the gladiatorial combats began to decline and very shortly they passed from history. Why? Because one man dared to speak out for what was right.
This morning, let us consider the absolute boldness of genuine Christian Hope. Hope – very much like the word love – is such an overly and misused word that I fear it has lost any value and significance.
In hoping that it doesn’t rain or hoping that our ball team wins the game, have we have forgotten what hope even is? Have we traded boldness for mediocrity?
Have we traded the power of the Holy Spirit for the weakness of vain philosophies of men and empty rhetoric of dying, dry, and dead religion?
Are you filled with the audacious hope that comes from knowing God or does your hope consists of empty wishes, waiting to be fulfilled by the imaginary deities of our secular culture?
This morning I want to offer you a working definition of Hope. Hope is so much more than wishing on a star. It is so much more than cliché and empty promises.
“I wish I had a new car. I wish I were taller. I wish I would win the lottery.”
Genuine Christian Hope is bold – not passive. Authentic Christian Hope is daring. Hope is like fuel for courageous living.
Hope has little to do with the passive wishing for ordinary things and everything to do with radical faith-filled action.
In today’s Scripture reading, the Apostle Peter admonishes us to prepare our minds for action and to fix our hope completely on the grace of God as it is revealed in the person of Christ Jesus.
Genuine Christian Hope is not a passive faith. Even Jesus admonishment to “turn the other cheek” is a call to the radical activity of forgiveness.
Consider for just a moment the kind of life that Jesus lived during His earthly ministry. Here are just a few of the things that did;
Jesus taught those in need of instruction, fed those who were hungry, healed the sick, defended the weak, consoled the oppressed, served humanity, won souls, was an intercessor on our behalf – to name but a few!
The Christian life is a life of action! Christianity is not a “pie in the sky, waiting for the sweet by and by” king of religion!
Genuine Christian Hope does not wait for tomorrow to see what may become of those in need. Authentic Christian Hope seeks opportunities to bring justice to those who suffer injustice.
Genuine Christian Hope is not a passive ingredient in the mix of life; it is the yeast that makes the bread rise! Hope – true Christ-like hope – is nothing short of the most powerful catalyst for change in a broken world.
Just a few days ago my wife and I were reading the news reports on the website of a well known cable news channel, as we often do. Both of our hearts broke as we read report after report of the terrible plight of children even here in our own land.
We read of child after child who had been abused, mistreated, and much worse.
What is wrong with the heart of a person who would harm a child? What is wrong with the world around us? Why do so many hurt so many others?
What is it that causes one to hate while another loves? What is it that causes one to trust while another despairs? What is the source of all of this?