Bible Reading: Romans 15:4 -6, 13
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
TAKE A MOMENT TO PONDER
The purpose of Scripture, Paul says in Romans 15:4, is so that “we might have hope.” He was speaking, of scriptures written in the Old Testament. And as we see here, the same applies to the early Christian writings in the New Testament.
Paul is writing to the Romans, to make the point that in the middle of sorrows and trials, we can take heart and have peace — not because things are easy, but because the hard things of this life are temporary and are preparing for us an eternal glory. Our peace is not in the absence of strife or troubles, but in Jesus and what he has done to make our future sure!
To use the words of a colleague: “we are living in different and difficult times”. Indeed, we are. The onslaught of Covid 19 has affected us in such a way that the ring of the phone could just be a caller informing us of the death of another family member, friend, or someone we know, who has lost the battle with the virus. In these times of the many challenges faced and experienced by so many people; it is difficult to convince many of Jesus’ invitation to trust in God.
From the church’s perspective, there is work to be done! Our church must now be armed to explain and illuminate the substance of that hope, that Paul is speaking about. The ministry of the Church must be equipped to share and reflect the future hope to which we have been called.
A primary function of the church is to proclaim the goodness of God and to encourage followers and potential followers to believe in hope.
Faithful Christian ministry will often take Jesus’ followers to places where hope is in short supply; places where a sense of hopelessness hangs over a community – whether home, school, church, cities, and towns.
Jesus’ followers are called to places where the effects of global financial upheavals have had negative effects on the citizens, especially those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder. It will happen where there is unemployment and family breakdown. How do we spread the news of the kingdom in such places?
We are called to work with, and for:
- People who are one illness away from financial ruin
- People who fear for their children’s safety when they are alone.
- Communities where politics means partisan policies and violence against each other.
- A world in which, while all this is going on, the inequity between the “haves” and the “haves not” keeps getting wider! In other words, the rich is getting richer, and the poor keeps getting poorer.
To such places, and the sad people who live in them, as well as to those who find themselves battered by circumstances beyond their control, the message of Jesus and his death and resurrection comes as the “good news”, of surprising hope.
The Church must signal in its life and teaching that there is:
- More to being human than mere survival; more than hedonism and power; more than ambition and entertainment.
- That life… does have purpose; that there is comfort for those weighed down by an uncertain life and future, and that there is something more powerful than scamming and gang warfare.
- That there really is a different way to be human, and it has been decisively launched with Jesus.
In this world, you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33
We must be confident in pointing to the New World God Is Making: There is a new world, and it has already begun, and it works by healing and forgiveness, and new starts and fresh energy.
Can this happen? “Yes”, answers the Church. Please note the modus operandi necessitated by Covid 19. The church has moved out of the church but remains church in its mission and worship, though physically separated. It comes about as people worship the God in whose image they are made. They are indwelt by His Spirit and thereby given new life: a new way of life, a new zest for life.
It is often pointed out that some of the places most lacking in hope are the places where there is too much focus on material possessions – money, status, self-love – too much of everything except faith, hope, and love. The Church is called upon to live and to speak, to bring into reality, in each place and each generation, the good news — of justice, truth, beauty, love, and above all – Jesus and his sacrifice for our redemption.
The Church, because it is the family that believes in the new creation, should stand out in every city, town, and village as the place where hope bursts forth. Not just hope that something better lies in “the hereafter;” but rather, a belief that God’s new Word has been sown, like seeds in a field, and that it is already bearing surprising fruit.
The life of the new world has already been unleashed in the present time, and what Christians do because of that life, that Spirit-given direction and energy, is already in itself part of the new world that God is making.
Where this hope takes root, the story told by the whole New Testament comes to life again and again. Through Jesus, and by His Spirit, the new world has been born.
All that we do in the present, in working for justice and beauty, in searching for truth in every sphere of life, above all, in speaking cheerfully and wisely of Jesus, is rooted in the scriptures, both of Israel and of the early Church, and is designed to produce hope.
Trusting Jesus and placing our hope in Him is what can bring us the peace we long for. Looking for love, acceptance, or joy in any other place will always fall short.
So today, challenge yourself to find your hope in Jesus. Let Jesus bring you the peace you need. Spend time with Him, reading the Bible, and finding out who He is. As you read the word and talk to God about your situation, you will be pleasantly surprised at the peace and joy that comes into your life.
1.Our peace is not in the absence of strife or troubles, but in Jesus and what he has done to give us hope and make our future sure! Where do you see this happening in your life?
2. How Are Christians Invited to live in light of John 16:33?
John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(These are Jesus’ final words of reassurance, comfort, and encouragement to his disciples in the upper room just before his betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion).
A MOMENT IN PRAYER
Fill my heart with the deep conviction that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love which you have for me in Christ Jesus. Stay near, O God, in the middle of my trials and hardships. Stir my heart with your Spirit to remember your promises, your faithfulness, and Jesus’ triumph over death. I ask for the peace of Jesus, on whom my hope is built and in whose name I pray. Amen.
Contributed by Rev Melrose Wiggan