The Role of Hope in Discipleship

Yesterday I said:

“Hope” in the Bible is not just something wished for.  “Hope” is something you live into, something you aim your effort, your living, your prayer & fasting toward.

Let’s talk about the difference between wish and hope.

Wish: let’s say that I want the Cowboys win the Superbowl.  Can I do anything to make that happen?

Or let’s say that I want the weather in Lexington this summer to continue to be cool and less humid.  Can I do anything to make that happen?

Those things are WISHES.  That’s not what the Bible means by hope.

Hope: but let’s say I want to take a vacation to Wyoming in August.  I can do things to make that happen, right?  I can set aside money, research options, make reservations, change the oil in my car and replace the old tires, figure out how to do vacation in times of COVID, etc.

Or let’s say I want to lose weight.  Or to be a better spiritual influence in the lives of my children.  Or publish a book based on my lectures on the Pastoral Epistles.

Those aren’t just wishes, those are preferred futures that I can act on.  THAT’S BIBLICAL HOPE.

Biblical hope is not some vague, nebulous wish for something that might happen.  Biblical hope is a preferred future, something we want to happen or to become, that we can meaningfully act upon or prepare for.  We live into it.

And what is the object of our hope?

  • To be perfect representatives of Jesus Christ.
  • To live lives characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
  • To have our minds set on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
  • Etc., etc.

Remember, our hope is NOT limited to “going to heaven when we die.”  Our hope is a full, abundant life in the presence of God in the hear and now that continues into eternity.

So: let’s say my hope is to better set my mind on things that reflect the virtues of Philippians 4.8 (“true, noble, right, pure, lovely,” etc.)  I CAN DO THINGS THAT INFLUENCE THIS.  I can do things that move me closer to this goal.

There are things that move me closer to this goal:

  • Spending more time in scripture and prayer.
  • Cutting down my time reading and arguing about politics on social media.
  • Restricting my time watching violent or coarse content on television.
  • Building my skills as a listener, working on my empathy, etc.

When I do these things, I am living into my hope.


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