I’m continuing to plod my way through an excellent book, How People Change, by Lane & Tripp. I say “plod” because I haven’t had much time to read lately. Many are the distractions these days…but all good.
In the opening chapter, the authors talk about five gospel perspectives that drive the book. They are:
- The Extent and Gravity of Our Sin
- The Centrality of the Heart
- The Present Benefits of Christ
- God’s Call to Growth and Change
- A Lifestyle of Repentance and Faith
These five perspectives pretty well encapsulate the gospel life. Let me share with you what they write about the third perspective, The Present Benefits of Christ.
The Christian hope is more than a redemptive system with practical principles that can change your life. The hope of every Christian is a person, the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He is the wisdom behind every biblical principle and the power we need to live them out. Because Christ lives inside us today, because he rules all things for our sakes (see Eph. 2:22-23), and because he is presently putting all his enemies under his feet (see 1 Cor. 15:25-28), we can live with courage and hope.
Our hope is not in our theological knowledge or our experience within the body of Christ. We are thankful for these things, yet we hold on to one hope: Christ. In him we find everything we need to live a godly life in the here and now. Paul captures it so well: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
A friend of mine went to hear Shane Claiborne speak a couple of years ago, back in the previous electoral cycle. The other speakers (all Christians) were trashing George W. Bush up and down, assuming, I suppose, that Claiborne felt the same way they did about Bush (hate) and Obama (love). When Claiborne took the podium he said this: “Last night, on David Letterman, Barack Obama said, ‘America is the hope of the world.’ I thought Jesus was the hope of the world.” Stunned silence.
We put our hope in a lot of things that are not God and a lot of people that are not Jesus. I know too many single women who put their hope in finding some man to marry. I know too many men who put their hope in success. And I know too many people who live shattered, cynical lives because they placed their hope in things that are not God and people that are not Jesus.
Jesus is your hope. He is my hope. He is the only one who, when all is said and done, will come through for us. He is the only one who can rescue us from the evil that lies within our hearts. He is the only one who can change us by transforming our hearts, by changing that which we desire.
Don’t be allured away from Jesus by shining, beautiful things. Don’t trust in the strength of things determined by the values of the market. Don’t put your hope in yourself. Jesus rules over everything for your sake, and he his conquering all of his enemies, and he lives in your heart by faith. He is your hope.