The feedback from last Sunday’s lesson was truly encouraging and I am thankful for that. I want to build on it further; that is, this idea that “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2nd Corinthians 5:20). One of the things that struck me about this role in the Christian’s life, is the fact that it is as though “God were pleading through us” (v20). That plead from God through us is that sinful man “be reconciled to God” (v20). This message of reconciliation has at it very core the fact that “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Okay, I realize that all of this is merely repeating last week’s thoughts, but there is an underlying attitude that resonates within the follower of Christ that I want to speak to today. It is woven into the idea that “the love of Christ compels us” (2nd Corinthians 5:14). It is a constant within the message, but seemingly allusive so often in life. It is the inward conviction of hope.
…joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
Personally, this verse has always challenged me, for it reveals that hope is truly a constant in the Christian’s life, or at least, it should be. Consider the verse that follows, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). This word confidence comes from a Greek word that means fear and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance. It speaks “of the undoubting confidence of Christians relative to their fellowship with God.” It is the hope we have that is in and is sustained by Christ and His marvelous work of redemption. So, here is a question that came to mind as I was writing this article. In what does my hope rest in? My job? A raise? A new car? The election? The list could go on and on I suspect. My hope that is anchored in Christ at times seemingly feeble. Why?
The answer to that question most likely was answered by the questions before it. All too often in my life, my attitude concerning hope is inextricably linked to this physical world; and thus, influences what I understand hope to be. I know, we face adversity in this life and those things are at times very burdensome. Yet I am reminded of these words from the apostle Paul, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Hope must be nurtured. It is done, at least in part, through the use of the Scriptures. I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 as He was tempted to lose focus, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We need to feed on God’s word so that the hope of Christ can grow within us. Why?
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that IS IN YOU…
1st Peter 3:15
I wonder what was going through the minds of those who were “plundering” the goods of those early Christians? Do you think they were confused at how these followers of Christ were acting? Maybe, just maybe, one of them was compelled to ask, “What is the reason for your hope?” And that opened the opportunity to talk about the hope that was in them due to the loving redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We are ambassadors of a hope that is not of this world but needs to be proclaimed to this world. Is this hope in you? Heavenly Father, renew within Your church the awareness of the hope that we have in Christ and create anew a confidence of our relationship with You. Help us to be Your ambassadors.