Dear friends in Christ,
For the month of December we are going to take a break from our series on the meaning of the windows in the sanctuary. Christmas is near, and it is a season of hope. With all of the challenges in our world today, I think it is good for us to think about the kind of hope that Jesus Christ gives to us. This will be a comfort as we prepare to celebrate His birth.
If it has happened once it has happened a dozen times over the years. At a visit with someone in the hospital or with one who is nearing death, when I mention that soon Jesus will come soon to take the person home to heaven, they respond, “I hope so.” Or sometimes when I tell them, “Your sins are forgiven!” they say, “I hope so”.
This response can either be very good or very bad, depending on how the heart understands hope. For example: Think back to when you were a child and Christmas Day was approaching. The thought on your mind and in your heart might have been, “Gee, I hope I get what I want for Christmas!” In this case saying, “I hope” implies that you might get your wish list items, but you might not. The end result is up in the air until you tear the paper off the last present.
While this is an understandable sentiment regarding toys under the tree, it is not the kind of confidence we should have in our hearts when we hear Jesus’ words of forgiveness, or hear the promise of heaven. If you carry “Christmas Present Hope” in your heart you will likely be afraid of the time when you will meet Jesus, because “Maybe He will welcome you to heaven, but maybe He wont. Maybe He will forgive you, Maybe He won’t.” With “Christmas Present Hope” in your heart, thoughts of heaven bring fear rather than the peace God wants you to have when that Day draws near.
The hope that we have as Christians is very different than “Christmas Present Hope”. For we have the sure and certain Word of God which tells us that Jesus was born and lived and died and rose for us. God has promised that “…whoever believes in [His Son] will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We know that God will never break his promises to us. We trust that as He has led us to trust in Christ, so He will keep us strong in that trust until the end. So when thoughts of heaven arise, we know we are forgiven and that we will see Jesus. Our hearts say, “I hope it will be soon.”
Hear the beautiful way Paul describes this hope in Romans 5:1-8:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dear friends, your hope in Christ is sure and certain. He is faithful to you. He is always faithful to you. Thanks be to God!
Hope in Christ this Christmas! Hope in Christ forever!