Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent 2007 / Daily Doses of Hope - #2

Read: Romans 5:1-11

CONFUSION AND CLARIFICATION. Draw a distinction between different kinds of hope. Biblical hope is distinct from other sources and expressions of hope. Confusion at this point can lead to distortion, disillusionment and troubling impacts. Clarification at this point can set us on a course for fulfillment.

DISNEY HOPE. Biblical hope is different than developing and doggedly pursuing personal aspirations. It is not the same as believing our dreams will come true. It is different than expecting multiplied results and outcomes for certain inputs. It is different than the typical frog-becomes-prince, rags-to-riches story line. Hope described in the Bible is different than the heroic tales that are the stock-in-trade of Disney movies and the general assumption of American culture.

THE POWER OF THE DREAM. I know many hopeful people. They look on the bright side of things. They are convinced that right will ultimately win out. They believe good things are going happen. They stake their future in the power of their dreams and align their choices and discipline themselves to move in that direction. In the face of great odds, folks like this refuse to give up or give in. They believe in themselves, and believe for miracles. They hope against hope for a positive outcome. More often than not, such hopeful people become high achievers and see results those who do not hope will never approach.

DISCONNECTED HOPE. I have no doubt that the source of all kinds of expressions of hope can ultimately be traced to God’s outgoing, redemptive love. But many endearing expressions of hope are functionally and spiritually disconnected from the hope that is described in the Bible. People can tap into hope and use its power to drive their lives, but they don’t know or necessarily care where it comes from, what its greater trajectory is, or the kind of power with which they are working. All they know is that it seems to work for them. Like capturing a bit of the wind in a sail in order to get across the lake, folks use a bit of hope to carry them along their personal journey, doing their best to manipulate it toward their desired results.

DOWNSIDE OF "USING" HOPE. Sadly, though hope can be apparently “used” as a tool for personal satisfaction, financial gain or political power, such use is a corrupting distortion of its greater intention. And such short-sighted applications of hope have a troubling and sometimes destructive downside.

WHERE BIBLICAL HOPE TAKES SHAPE. Biblical hope begins with a loving God, whose design and relational intention are written into the fabric of creation. Biblical hope takes the Fall into full account. Biblical hope takes shape at the intersection of fallenness and God’s loving intention for each of us, all humanity, and all creation. It is right here--at this intersection of fallenness and God’s loving intention--that the story of redemption, promise and fulfillment develops and erupts into lived reality. This intersection is the point of Christmas hope, the crux of the Cross, the power of Resurrection, and the intention of prophesies fulfilled and pending.

BEFORE WE JOURNEY ON. Before we move on in our journey in hope, let us get this fixed in our mind and heart: Authentic hope is rooted in the living Word of God.

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