Random Blog Clay Feet: July 20, 2008
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hope or Love?

In a sermon I heard recently I heard comments about Christians through the ages being motivated primarily by the desire to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus. It was presented that this was the main desire that consumed their attention and compelled their reasons for witnessing.

As I thought about this I realized that we have been somewhat misguided in our zeal for promoting the Second Coming as the primary motivation for our Christian witness and the explanation for all Christian's activities in the past two thousand years. And while I certainly do not want to downplay the great importance of the Second Coming, I am convinced that we are making a serious mistake in overemphasizing it to the exclusion of other even more important elements in the plan of salvation.

It was pointed out to me some time ago that there are a number of denominations, of which mine is certainly one, that put great emphasis on the idea of hope. This emphasis is so strong in the culture of these churches that it often overshadows both faith and love in its influence on the lives and beliefs of most of its members. As a result there are significant problems that arise by procrastinating dealing with many issues as it is believed that we simply need to wait for the Second Coming to resolve all of our problems. I have noticed that it is even used sometimes as an escape mechanism to avoid facing difficult issues or emotional healing by simply assuming they cannot be dealt with and must be left to somehow evaporate mysteriously at the Second Coming of Jesus.

While hope is important, it should always be subservient to the passion of selfless love which Paul declares is even more important. (see 1 Corinthians 13) Looking to the Second Coming as our escape from pain and dysfunction is inherently selfish in nature in the way it is often taught. While the Second Coming is certainly a legitimate reason for hope, we need to examine our hearts and allow God to expose our mixed motives for looking forward to this great event.

The real motivation for all true Christian witness throughout all the ages is the compelling attractiveness of God, not a future time of escape when everything will suddenly be fixed. When once our heart is captured with the overwhelming truth of God's amazing love for us personally, we simply cannot refrain from desiring others to be able to experience this sense of aliveness, this compelling feeling of being valued that comes from experiencing the faith that Jesus has in us.

When understood correctly, the cross of Christ is really a demonstration of God's feelings about us and the lengths to which He will go to accept abuse from us to prove that we cannot extinguish His love no matter how hard we may try. The cross of Calvary is not about an angry God venting His wrath on His Son instead of wicked sinners but is about wicked sinners like us venting our wrath on a loving, forgiving God who refuses to stop loving us. If we can ever catch even a glimpse of the enormous passion that drives the love and kindness of God toward us, then faith and hope will simply be spontaneously present in our lives but will not inappropriately overshadow the place that love needs to have in our hearts.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)