Hope Without An Expiration Date

Sadly, there are many things that characterize the lives and passions of Christians. More often than not, culture is right to describe the Christian’s zeal in ways that show what we, as followers of Jesus, condemn rather than what we promote. Said another way, we champion the things we want changed. We take the call from Paul in his brief letter to the Philippian church to think about excellent, praise-worthy things to mean attack the things that aren’t that. But he doesn’t say that. He says to be reasonable to everyone and to champion the good. Praise the honorable. Give coverage and airtime to the things that bring joy, life, and hope.

And there’s a word to think about. Hope.

If we sit back and dissect the life of the Christian, that should be what we find beneath the soil. We should find hope. If we could sit on our couches with our friends, neighbors, and family members to enjoy one another and conversation together — one past the politics and social media — it would be hope that we should talk about. If interviewed and asked why should anyone listen to or take Christians seriously, we should give hope as the answer. But why hope?

Recently, I watched a Netflix special and someone in the audience posted this question to the comedian on stage: What gets you up in the morning? What makes you keep going, keep laughing, and keep loving?

With genuine emotion and a confident security the comedian explained it was her spouse, her many pets, and went on to say knowing that she had a support system and had those around her that loved her. That’s what did it.

As I thought about the response, I thought more about the question. In the current climate of our country and our world, that question is more important than ever. What keeps us going? What keeps us waking up and pressing on even when things go from bad to worse?

Having a support system is highly important. Having people around you is such a worthy, honorable, praise-worthy ingredient to having hope and to continue getting out of bed even when days seem dark and nights seem darker. But here’s where it gets complicated. What happens when all the things we look to for hope are temporal? What does it mean for our own hope when the objects we hope in are always at risk of disappearing?

If Jesus got up and walked out of his grave, we, too, can get up and walk forward in our day.

And not to be gloomy in this season of joy, but it’s important to peel back and think about why this season is what it is. The reality is that friends will die. Family will die. Dogs will die. Cats will die. Birds will die. Houses will decay. Shiplap will rot. Jobs will end.

When we hope in things that have expiration dates, that means our hope has one too.

And sure, we can find new friends and make new families and get new jobs and rescue new pets and install more shiplap, but that’s exhausting. It’s the never-ending race of making sure your effort outlasts where you place your hope. As long as you can review and replace, your hope just might stay in tact.

But let’s go back to the conversation on the couch with neighbors, family, and friends. When everything on the surface get’s pushed away, it’s hope that makes the Christian who they are. What gets your moody, weird, Christian neighbor up in the morning is hope. At least that’s the central focus of what following Jesus is all about.

It’s all about hope. Hope that rests on the baby in the manger that 33 years after his birth carried his own cross to a hill in order to be publicly humiliated, killed, mocked, and buried. But the whole reason that we find hope in a baby that ended up dying just like everyone else who’s ever lived is that he’s the only one who experienced death as just a pitstop. We hope in Jesus because he wasn’t like other men. He was God in flesh. And the only reason his death brings hope is because it brings life with it. What is it that gets the Christian up in the morning? What is it that keeps Christians moving along in the face of despair? It’s not the hope of the news. It’s not the hope of political agendas. It’s not the hope of lower gas prices.

Jesus, once lifeless and without a heartbeat, getting up and walking out of his tomb is what keeps the Christian waking up each morning. If Jesus got up and walked out of his grave, we, too, can get up and walk forward in our day.

When we hope in things that have expiration dates, that means our hope has one too.

Experiencing real hope is knowing that what you place your hope in will never expire. That’s what an unshakable hope means. It means your hope is never at risk. It’s secure. If death can’t stop it, what can? Death and decay threaten and eventually take over everything on this side of the grave. That’s why real, lasting hope must be in something — Someone — that death and decay can’t touch.

That’s what Jesus brings. That’s the reason there’s a pine tree in your living room with tiny lights on it. That’s the reason there’s a manger scene set up down the street from your house. The reason is hope. Hope you don’t have to work for. Hope you don’t have to secure. Hope you don’t have to monitor. Hope you don’t have to please. Hope you don’t have to keep happy. Hope you don’t have to take care of.

Hope that takes care of you. Hope that secures your future. Hope that brings light when all else is dark.

Hope that never runs out.

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the founder & CEO of Peel, a social media startup directed at redeeming the value of social media in everyday life. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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