We’re hearing a great deal about fear these days. Regardless of your political affiliation, religious beliefs, or social circles, it seems the theme of fear is permeating our national and international consciousness. I can understand why this might happen for people who place a great deal of confidence in politics, economics, and human systems. Yet it bothers me Christians are trapped in a fear based existence. We often read in the scriptures God reminding his people to “Fear not.” We’re constantly encountering a God telling us to “Be not afraid!” Yet, just like everyone else Christians have bought into the narrative of fear. What does that say about us? We were created to reflect the image of a God encouraging people to be bold and live in a way that reflects hope not fear. Yet we continue to be drawn into a narrative of fear.
Part of the problem is we’ve put our hope in the wrong place. We believe politics, military might, legal systems, powerful people, and a multitude of other sources are going to give us the security, stability, and peace we long for. We’ve forgotten all these things are useful, but in the end are not the source of our hope and peace. Only in Christ can we find hope and in that hope the peace and life that gives us a truly wonderful existence regardless of our surrounding situation. I want to focus on three readings from scripture that help us refocus our need to re-root ourselves in Christ as the source of our hope. The first is from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. I love this epistle because it reminds us what matters most. What matters most is Christ the Son of God. Christ, the one who was present at the beginning of all creation and the one to whom all creation returns. This epistle demands we ground our hope in Christ because our strength comes from the glorious power of Christ (Colossians 1:11). Further, we read Christ rescues us from the power of darkness and gives us a place in God’s Kingdom, a place of forgiveness (Colossians 1:13). The whole epistle is packed with reasons for us to take comfort in the fact our hope is in Christ and not in the temporal transitory world in which we dwell.
In addition to Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians I find comfort in praying through Psalm 46 which also reminds us of the great God who is our peace and hope. The psalm reminds us God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1) and he is the one who makes wars cease (Psalm 46:9) The psalm reminds us God is present and we can take comfort in him. We read in the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) These readings remind us our hope is misplaced if it’s placed in anything other than the great God of heaven and earth.
I know things often look difficult and tough, particularly when you buy into the narrative of fear. We see events around the world and recognize there is a great deal of evil rooting itself in the human experience. We see war in Syria, children being used as weapons by ISIS, parts of the world devastated by natural disasters, and we doubt we can find safety or peace anywhere. I’m reminded, however, of the crucifixion scene from the Gospel of Luke. In chapter 23:33-43 we read of the most horrific death a human being can experience. Christ is crucified on a cross while people jeer at him and cry out for him to save himself. A man on the cross next to him joins in with the crowd deriding Christ. Hope is lost and many are cheering at its disappearance and delighting in the onset of evil closing in on the one who promised hope. Yet one voice comes from the other dying man next to him echoing the small sound of hope for something better. The dying criminal says to Christ, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That one act of hope blossoms from the power of the crucified Christ and the response Christ gives is amazing. Christ, broken, bruised, despised, and given up for dead tells this soul holding on to this last chance of hope, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
You are a Christian. You are a child of the God of hope. Do not embrace fear, rather embrace what appears to be broken, bruised, and hopeless and infuse an act of hope into that situation. Embrace the dying Christ because from him the power of love and hope will give new life and peace to the fearful situations you experience. Our hope is not in the next election, political movement, or civil act, it’s in the promise from Christ that today, not tomorrow or next year or in the next four years, rather today, you will be with him in paradise. This is why I continue to have hope. This is who I have hope in. This is the Christian witness to what is good, beautiful, and true in the midst of fear, anger, and hate. Become an icon of hope so others will see in you the risen Christ, a hope and promise of peace for the world!