Social distancing. Flattening the curve. Sheltering in place. We’re physically keeping our distance from others right now to avoid spreading infection. We don’t know if we ourselves are carrying the coronavirus or not. We don’t know who among us is a carrier of this dangerous disease and we don’t want to find out by catching it ourselves.
Are you a carrier? What are you carrying?
Colossians 1 says that God has made the glorious riches of the mystery; this is his holy will for Jews and Gentiles; this is the thing he wants for all people; this is what God has been working on for everybody: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The image of God in you, the likeness of Christ in you is about hope. That’s what’s inside you. That’s what you’re carrying. Hope.
And right now I believe the very best thing we can share with those around us is our Christian hope.
Now, “hope” is a funny word. When we say “hope” in our ordinary English language, we don’t mean something that’s certain. We usually mean it like a wish. We want something to happen, but it might or might not.
“I’m going to the store and I hope they have toilet paper.” They probably won’t.
“I hope it’s going to be a nice spring.” It might.
“I hope the Cowboys win the Super Bowl this year.” That’s just delusional.
Hope in the Bible is not wishful thinking. Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence, a certainty, that it will come to pass because Almighty God promised it’s going to come to pass.
“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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” ~1 Peter 1:3-5
You have been born into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus. You have that hope inside you. And God gives hope to people through you. People place their hope in God after an experience with you. You are a carrier! When you walk into a room, the others around you sense that you’re carrying something, not because you’re coughing or sneezing or because your eyes are red, but because you are kind and gentle and compassionate and forgiving and full of grace.
Our steadfast hope is anchored in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are holy carriers of that blessed hope. And that hope compels us to live courageously and to act boldly and for the sake of others, in the face of whatever comes our way.
In order to have hope one needs to be dissatisfied. I have no dissatisfaction and no hope. It is interesting that Dante portrayed hell as “Those who enter here, leave all hope behind.” Maybe that is true of hell, but it is also true of heaven. Heaven is where we have it all today with no hope that tomorrow will be better. This is all well and good, but if people would just realize that today is as good as it gets, they will not need any hope. If there is a heaven or a hell, people will, in either case, have to get used to living without hope.