Paul, addressing the Christians in the city of Corinth, refers to 'hope' as one of the three greatest, along with faith and love. It is 'hope' that has sustained me as a young follower of Jesus.
A year ago I returned from traveling throughout many of the darker corners of our world. It rocked my faith.
For months I would nightly fall asleep on a pillow soaked by tears of confusion. My heart was broken. The nice, neat Jesus I had been raised to believe in as a Christian in a safe, secure, Western world bore no resemblance to what I witnessed first-hand, or the Christians I met in those darker places.
This was a horrible journey many young Christians have travelled. I too became a traveller on this journey.
I prayed as if prayer had gone out of fashion. I fasted as if food was as nothing. I read the Bible as if the ink went watery, and I began to study other religions. I did all I could to find some sort of foundation to start piecing back together this separation I felt. It was overwhelming.
This arduous journey transformed my faith in Christ, and exploded my view of what it means to hope.
Hope gives an anchor
If there is one thing hope provides for faith, it is an anchor. I could not have created a better concept than 'hope', as it anchors the ultimate power and creator of the awesome universe to a loving Saviour. Hope illustrates this injurious suffering of Jesus upon this hellish earth—in essence sacrificial, unconditional love—to save me. His authority was perfect love. God is love, the Scriptures say.
It is to this I can now affirm my acceptance of Christ as God, and not any other god. This response is not from fear; it is a conviction of truth as true love has no fear. This is a God to whom I am willing to devote my life. This is a God to whom I can strive to grow closer to, to whom I long to be a part, to whom I hope to live forever with, and to whom I can pray 'His will be done everywhere, and in everything.' Hope is my anchor.
Hope gives solace
Following Jesus in faith is not complicated. Hope provides a child-like solace whereby I have been able to offer myself to Christ in simplicity. I have a growing understanding of what Jesus was 'getting at' when he asked His followers to have childlike faith.
Children have ability for uncompromising trust far exceeding adults. Their hope is admirable and honest and so delightfully revealing. Their questions demonstrate this and this is the heart of the matter, my childlike faith directs my paths to follow Jesus and to do right and to help and not hinder.
The essence of hope is this solace in child-like faith.
Hope shows the love of Christ
It is no surprise that Paul speaks of hope with the word love. Christ oozes love. The Cross is central to love. The resurrection abounds in love. The early church is recorded as if living 'as love'. This is no wishy washy love, this is earnest, direct, strong, challenging, erstwhile love that changes hearts.
On my international sojourns, as I met with followers of Jesus, it was not the first world problems that were uppermost upon their hearts, but it was the love of Jesus that crashed in upon their lives and might even place their own safety in jeopardy.
In this—my final article for Christian Today (at this time)—my heartfelt desire is to illustrate that Paul's description of following Christ is bound up in such a 'hope' that overwhelms the listener with the love of Christ and that in following him I too might example this same love.
This is a foundation of following Jesus: faith, hope and love. This is the Bible, the core root and branch of our being as followers of Jesus.
'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.' 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 13.
Sam is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand working as a carpenter while starting up his own social enterprise to assist refugees into employment.
His previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-rillstone.html