I've been enjoying my fall appointments at the University. I've been to several schools now debating/presenting the ideas that make Christianity a viable faith. It's amazing to see how many people have a post-Christian Worldview eliminating the need for God, as if He is some kind of spirit of the Volcano we now know doesn't actually cause the lava flows.
I've encounter vocal atheists, passive post-moderns, and persistent polytheists. It's a BLAST! I often wonder if I missed my calling to be a University Professor. In any event, as we debate the pros and cons of being a part of the evil "organized religion" as they call it, our arguments boil down to one monumental cosmic event in history, Jesus.
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection are THE bottom line in Christianity.
Because, let's be honest…
Buddhists say it's wrong to kill people…that's a pretty good idea.
Hindus even go so far to say there is One Supreme Being…another noble thought.
The Taoist wrestles with the inner struggle of evil…which Paul highlights more than once in the New Testament.
And the Muslim believes in giving to the poor, praying to God, and hold high family values.
So what's the big difference in all these faiths? One of the hardest ideas to battle at the University today is that all of these faiths exist under one banner. In other words, we're all going to the same place, we just need to be true to our own religion.
The problem…they don't Coexist very well, unlike the popular bumper sticker.
I don't mean to suggest all these people can't live together, share life together, raise families together, or have a wonderful cul de sac in the suburbs. But, what I am saying is, there is a hope only found in following Jesus that can't be replaced with any other mantra on the planet.
Peter writes it like this, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15)
It's Jesus that gives us hope.
Not only was He the most revolutionary figure in history with extreme a-political, counter religious, and social upheaval types of ideas.
Jesus taught us the way to live as God created us.
He is the power of nature, and healed the sick.
He gave purpose to people who woke up everyday to go fishing again, and again, and again, and again.
He showed us how the spirit of the law is much more important than the letter of the law.
He gave us reasons for doing the things we do.
He sacrificed Himself for the whole of humanity
And that's just the beginning.
The true hope of our living and following Jesus comes when we sit and recognize the power of His resurrection. When Jesus comes walking out of the tomb, He sets up a beginning. The beginning of hope over death, disease, destruction, and all the pieces of life that fail under sin.
He died physically and rose spiritually, giving us hope that one day the same power will be afforded us. And in the meantime, by forgiving the sin that lives inside us; He promised us to live an abundant life in the now, and to just keep….on….living.
How does this hope differentiate itself from others?
The Buddhist ultimately works for himself to relieve suffering. i.e. see the world today.
The Tao has to keep working on balance.
The Muslim works hard and counts the cost/benefit of actions.
EVERY OTHER FAITH IN THE WORLD COUNTS ON YOU.
But your hope can be found in God.
Why does hope matter?
I honestly can't imagine going through life without hoping that someday it will all turn around. I can't imagine a world where we looked at the enormous orphan problem and said, "Well, that's just life."
I can't imagine being these people sitting next to me talking about financial ruin, without hope that someday it can be better. (I'm at Starbucks this morning.)
I can't even think what life would be like to loose a child tragically, find out I'm diagnosed with terminal disease, or continue to watch the teenage nation spiral into more decadent decay, if there wasn't hope it would all be a part of a plan working toward betterment.
It is THE reason I believe Christianity stands alone. It's not because of our clever arguments. It's not the apologetical research being done in history, archeology, or anthropology.
No, the bottom line is no matter where you are on this planet.
No matter the circumstances you're enduring at the moment.
No matter what awful choices you've made to bring you to this point.
Or what financial situation you're in….
Jesus gives us Hope that someday, it will all be renewed.
Remember today, HOPE MATTERS!