Guests: Paul Dybdahl and Dave Thomas
Relevant Biblical Passages: John 14:1-3
The Jesus Hope: Part 2. While the future hope burns brightly in the hearts of Jesus’ followers, God’s plan for His people actually touches us in varied ways, all of which can be part of the motivation nurturing the experience of hope. The discussion topics which follow represent a selection of key aspects which may serve to build hope. Is it possible to place them in a hierarchy, to see some as more important than others? John 14:1-3 speaks clearly of the “fact” of reunion and restoration. But what keeps that hope alive and healthy?
Discussion topics and questions:
- Our desperate need. Admittedly, when our circumstances become more desperate, we long with greater intensity for a way of escape. Revelation 6:10 puts the question most vividly as the souls under the altar cry out, “How long?” Is the longing for escape a “lesser” motivation? Should Christians seek for a more “noble” way of keeping the hope alive?
- Longing to see God. Matthew 5:8 promises that the pure in heart will see God. Revelation 21:3 promises that God will once again live among mortals. To what extent is this longing to see God integral to the believer’s experience? Or is the prospect of meeting God face-to-face actually a terrifying experience for some?
- Character of the Father. In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, it is a knowledge of the Father’s character which draws the wayward son home. In the experience of some, this focus on the character of God is more important than the knowledge of God’s sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. To what extent can the knowledge of God’s character be a drawing factor and to what extent an inhibiting factor for those who believe?
- Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. While it is still the case that the loving character of God provides the sacrifice for fallen humanity, for some the actual “fact” of the sacrifice provides the legal framework within which they can find peace with God. Some resist this imagery because it makes God appear demanding, even ruthless. Why does this one image stir up strong feelings among believers, winning the hearts of some but threatening to drive others away?
- The transformed life. For some it is the promise of God’s transforming power within them that proves a powerful attraction. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul urges the believers: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” but immediately adds the qualifier: “for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” To what extent is this promise of transformation a drawing power in preserving the Christian hope?
- Mutual support. A key factor in preserving the Christian’s hope is the fellowship of those with similar convictions. Hebrews 10:23-25 speaks a powerful truth in this respect, admonishing us: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” In an age which places great weight on the individual, has this communal role of the “church” become less important? Should we seek to recover its full power? If so, how?