Hope and love are essential for Christians. They should serve as the foundation of every Christian life. For God is love and reveals that love to us in Jesus, and through Jesus we should have hope that God is at work for us, making sure we will attain the kingdom of God for ourselves. His death reveals to us the end of sin, as he took with him all that is sin and cast it into the abyss. In his resurrection from the dead, he shows us the eternal life which God wants everyone to receive. Jesus willingly took upon the sin of the world upon his shoulders and died for us, so that his death can truly be said to be a sacrifice on our behalf, a sacrifice of love, showing us all that he is willing to do for us because of that love. When we love him back, we can join ourselves to him, allowing us not only to experience the effects of his sacrifice for us, as we find ourselves relieved of the burdens of sin, but also to find ourselves experiencing his glorious resurrection and the bounty of eternal life. Through him and his eternal life, we can share in and participate in the divine life itself, finding ourselves deified and partaking of the glory of the kingdom of God.
Jesus is the source of our hope. Our hope is not just in the fact that he died for us, but because he has been resurrected from the dead. And in this way, it can be said, we are saved, not just through his death, but through his life, for his life is eternal, one without end. If we participate in it, we shall find him shaving with us his saving and deifying grace, a grace which has no end because it is eternal:
While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (Rom. 5:6-10 RSV).
Paul tells us that our salvation lies, not only in the death of Jesus, but in his life, that is, in his eternal life. Our reconciliation with God is mysteriously accomplished by his death. Sin, which would destroy us and consume us, because it separates us from God and the grace which God gives us, has been overcome. God’s wrath, understood, of course, as a poetic description of the way God works to overcome sin, finds its consummation in Jesus’ work on the cross. Jesus’ death reveals that even in the midst of that wrath, God’s love holds true, which is shown to us in the way Jesus is glorified in his resurrection. Jesus not only lives, but lives in resurrected glory. Jesus shall never die again, showing us that the glory of the resurrection itself is everlasting. God’s love is more powerful than death. Thus, if and when we falter, if and when we find ourselves stumbling into sin once again, we should not find ourselves despairing of our salvation, because, as Paul said, our salvation is tied with the resurrected Christ, to the one who possesses eternal life; whatever temporary set-backs we have is nothing in comparison to Jesus’ eternal life.
Our hope, therefore should tell us not to be anxious; we should not worry, for God is good, loves us, and wants the best for us. And the glory revealed in Christ’s resurrection continues to be shared with the world, and will be shared with the world until the end of time, and beyond. The eschaton is immanent in Christ. Heaven and earth have joined been together, allowing us to experience the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, here on earth, that is, in our temporal existence. We shall, of course, do so in a way which is said to be in anticipation of the greater glory which we will experience in eternity, because of course, what is contained in time is but a shadow of what is to be had in eternity, but even that shadow of the glory is itself a part of the kingdom of God and capable of providing us great consolation and joy. We can and should have hope because we can search for and find the kingdom of God is truly in our midst. Everything can be ours. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt: 6:33 RSV). This is not to say we will not have troubles; we certainly will, but in the midst of those troubles, in the midst of it all, we should be able to discern the love of God in our lives, and through that discernment, experience the kingdom of God for ourselves. Jesus ascended into heaven, but he did not leave us alone; he did not abandon us, but rather, he is with us, even now, and we can partake of him and experience his glory, his life, for ourselves. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2 RSV).
Hope, therefore, is central to our faith. Our hope is in Jesus. It is, of course, hope, because, though we can experience the glory of the kingdom of God, even now, we experience it only in part; what is to come is even greater, even more glorious than what we experience now, indeed, is far greater than anything we could ever imagine. And it is this glory which continues to be what we hope for, this glory which we know shall be ours as heirs of the kingdom of God.
Our hope is revealed in the mystery of the eschaton itself, the mystery in which the eschaton is immanent, it is already present, thanks to the incarnation, and not yet, because the end of time, and with it, our resurrection from the dead has not yet come. Eternity reaches down, as it were, into temporal existence, so as to raise temporal existence up into eternity; as it does so, eternity enters into time while remaining true to itself. Jesus’ eternal life has been shown to the world; while others might have come back to life, their resuscitation was of a much different order and kind than his; he was the first to show us the complete victory over death so that in and through him, we know that there will be an end to death itself. This, once again, is what we have as our hope, that the victory Jesus had over death is not his alone, but something which shall be shared with all. And why do we hope this? Because in Jesus, we are shown the love which God has for all of us; in his life, in his death, in his resurrection, we are shown that love, we are not only shown what God wants for us, but we are shown also what God has in store for us if we but join in and unite ourselves to that love. For in Jesus, we are shown what it is we can experience in our own resurrection from the dead.
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