Prior to his election as President of the United States in 2008, Barack Obama gained national fame for his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, during which he asked Americans, “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” A politics of hope eventually became the informal slogan of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, best shown in the iconic poster that featured “HOPE” beneath a red, beige, and blue illustration the future president’s face. In reference to the campaign’s official logo, the designer stated that the “Sun rising over the horizon evoked a new sense of hope.” This emphasis on hope, however, is not unique to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. It could be said that all American political campaigns are based upon the offer of some form of hope to constituents.
The concept of hope extends far outside of politics and is found even within the deepest parts of the human psyche. We are driven by the possibility of a better situation in life and find hope in all manner of sources. The longing for Christmas day and the hope for toys makes falling asleep on Christmas Eve almost unbearable for a child. The hope of impressing the cool girl in school will drive the frailest of teenagers to spend long hours in the gym. A larger paycheck provides the hope that allow many of us to work longer. The hope of escape drives many to drink harder.
There are few pains worse than unrequited hope and we sadly force ourselves to feel this time and time again. Hope put in possession, status, and passion inevitably fails us. For some, this failure produces a jaded, calloused heart that gives into the loss of hope all together. For others, unrequited hope produces a deeper longing and we stretch further towards the possessions, status, and passions that we believe will meet our desires. For many, failed hope makes us apathetic and disconnected from life. The Bible is clear why this is the case: putting hope in these things is putting hope in idols, and idols produce no good.
In this week’s passage, we see where the Bible roots hope: the return of Jesus Christ to rule over the earth and His people. It is here that we find the true resting place of all our hopes and desires. To see Christ, to experience communion with Him with pure, sinless hearts due his death and resurrection, is our one true hope. From Him flows all manner of goodness and life and beauty, unlike the disappointment, guilt, and death that flows from our hope in idols.
This hope that is presented in the Bible is a transformative hope. As we look towards Christ and place our hope in him, our desires are reoriented and those things which we previously idolized are transformed. Instead of sources of unrequited hope, we realize that possessions, status, and passions are gifts from God and exist for the sole end of glorifying His great love and mercy for His people. And as we encounter friends and family that have their hope in that which will eventually fail them, we can give them the witness of our transformed lives and point them to our one true source of hope and life: Jesus Christ, the ever-living Son of God.
Scripture: 2 Peter 3:3-10
Sermon: Jesus is Coming
Offering and Song of Preparation: Midst the Darkness (arr. Chris Miner)
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Confession of Faith
Q. 88. What shall immediately follow after the resurrection?
A. Immediately after the resurrection shall follow the general and final judgment of angels and men; the day and hour whereof no man knoweth, that all may watch and pray, and be ever ready for the coming of the Lord.