Wednesday, 18 June 2008


The latest offering in the All Saint's Methven parish magazine.

There’s not a lot good on TV these days. And by that I don’t just mean that there’s no sport on pauper-view, nor that it’s all reality shows and so on. But there just isn’t a lot of good around. There’s not a lot of good news, not a lot of hope. Everything is rising – violent crime, petrol prices, living costs, floodwaters in the US, the number of atrocities in Zimbabwe. Everything is rising. Well, everything except wages!

There is very little hope. Last week as we worked our way through the book of Genesis in our Sunday sermons, we came to Genesis 3 – what is known as the Fall. And there we learnt why the world is the way it is – humanity has disobeyed God – and as a result the world is disordered. We call that sin. Things are not as they should be – they’re not as they were made to be. But knowing that doesn’t really help us a lot. Knowing the name of the disease you have doesn’t take the sickness away.

So where is hope? Or is the world without hope, and we should try and just minimise the hopelessness we feel in any way that we can? The message of Christianity is fundamentally one of hope. It is a message that God has stepped into the mess of the world, and has dealt with the cause of it. In the person of Jesus, and most perfectly in his death, God has conquered sin and reordered the world. The resurrection is tangible and permanent proof of that hope – that sin has been conquered, death has been defeated, and that those who commit themselves to Jesus are guaranteed rightly ordered life. The hope is that because God has done that in the cross, he will bring it to full completion when Jesus returns.

Brilliant, I hear you say. More pie in the sky when you die. Yes it is. But before the pie in the sky when you die there is steak on your plate while you wait. Belief in Jesus doesn’t take away rising fuel prices. It doesn’t take away the stress and difficulty that financial hardship brings to a family. It doesn’t mean an immediate end to pain, suffering, stress, sickness and feelings of despair. But it does offer an entirely new perspective on those things. Hardships are not to destroy us but test us. God uses tough times to draw us closer to him – to refine and strengthen our faith. We can look on these things as opportunities, for we know that they are only temporary compared to the hope we have in Jesus.

Faith in Jesus – the Christian hope – also validates the feelings of hopelessness we can have. It’s not wrong that we look at the world and are filled with despair, for things are not right – they are not the way they should be. We don’t just see pain and suffering in the world and ignore it – we grieve as well. Not just for the specific situation, but also for the travesty of sin which has marred God’s good world.

Lastly, we find the steak on our place while we wait at church. For the church is Jesus’ body – we are his people – his family. And Jesus works through his church by his Holy Spirit for the good of his people. In church (and by that I mean not only what happens on a Sunday morning, but more properly the people who have committed themselves to Jesus and therefore to each other) you will find help, if you need it. You will find a listening ear if you just need to vent. You’ll find financial help if this month things are just stretched too thin. You’ll find someone who can take your kids for an afternoon just so you can get a rest. You will hear encouragement to keep on trusting in Jesus even in the midst of the hardships you are going through. You will find other people who are like you – people who are struggling to live faithful lives in this world as they wait. And together we can help each other.

Hope. There isn’t a lot of it around these days. But there is in Jesus. Come to him. Come to his people. And hear and see and experience the hope that he offers. (image: