“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
So far this week in our conversation about hope, we have made clear that Biblical hope and the more cultural value of optimism are not the same thing. Optimism is ultimately a fantasy whereas Biblical hope has an entirely more solid foundation. This isn’t to say that being optimistic is wrong. Having a positive outlook on tomorrow is a good thing indeed. But real hope is better in the grand scheme. Today, I want to give you one more reason why this is the case. When it comes to the optimistic, wishful thinking our culture commends to us, it can be hard to maintain such a thing over the long haul–especially when that long haul is difficult. Biblical hope, however, lasts. Why? Because for followers of Jesus, our hope is not some inanimate feeling, it is a living thing.
Why do we have hope? Well, we’ve already talked about that. We have hope because we trust in the character of our consistent God who keeps His promises. Our belief in a future that is more positive than our present is not rooted in mere wishful thinking. It is rooted in God’s promise to restore all things. Okay, but why do we have this hope? Is there anything we can point to that is more tangible than God’s character as revealed in the Scriptures? I mean, the most recent of the Scriptures were written almost 2,000 years ago. Being driven forward by a confidence produced by something that old is hard to square, much less to sell. What else do we have?
What we have is exactly what Peter is talking about here at the beginning of his first letter. Peter proclaims the praises of a God who in His great mercy has given us a new birth. That means we are not the same as we were before. There are some similarities, but everything is new. Our whole spiritual environment has changed. We don’t think the same any longer. We don’t process the world through the same lens. We receive the nutrients we need to sustain our lives differently. We are new. And this newness is characterized by what Peter calls a living hope.
You see, the hope we have as followers of Jesus is not the product of our minds. To repeat this point again for the sake of clarity: It is not wishful thinking. We are not simply counting on some vision we have constructed for ourselves because it feels better than what we have now. Our hope is real. It is alive. It is a living hope. It is a living hope because the object of this hope is alive. When Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, our hope was given life. Before it was in the character of God as attested by the prophets and saints of old. That was a good and powerful thing, but it wasn’t enough. Then Jesus came and enlivened the hope we had. He made stronger and greater promises of the life of the kingdom than any of the prophets had given. What’s more, He attached these promises to Himself. He invited people to place their hope and trust in Him.
Now, that may have seemed like a dangerous or arrogant thing to do, but Jesus knew just what He was doing. He knew what the future held. He knew the plans of the Father. It didn’t seem like it at first, though. He sunk all of these promises and our hope for the future in Himself, and then died on a cross. And for a brief moment, hope was extinguished. Completely. It was dead. Then it wasn’t. Jesus came walking back out of the tomb on the third day bringing our hope with Him. He came walking back out of the tomb with a resurrection body that was designed to last for eternity, meaning our hope will stay alive as long as He does. Thus, we have a living hope.
As we prepare for Jesus’ arrival into the world, into our hearts, this Advent season, we are reminded of just how strong our hope really is. It is so strong because it is alive. It is alive permanently. It proclaims an inheritance that will last just as long as the Jesus who guaranteed it. It is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and kept with God the Father until that time comes when it will at last be delivered to us in the same condition in which it has always been in Christ–perfect.
When you have this Biblical hope, it will not fail you because the God who has secured it won’t fail you. This doesn’t mean every step of the journey will be easy–far from it, in fact. Jesus’ own journey wasn’t easy. It was literally excruciatingly (a word mean “from a crucifixion”) difficult. And it seemed to end in death. But God wasn’t done. Hope wasn’t lost. It came walking back out of the tomb, risen from the grave forever. So also will your hope endure when it is rooted the babe born at Christmas.