Thursday, February 7, 2008

A People Called Hope

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
-- 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

The world is reaching apocalyptic levels of stupidity.


And if you like provocative wordsmithery, you'll love Dan Edelen's A Dirty Tampon by the Side of the Road. (He throws in a used condom for good measure.)
Dan writes:
How does this generation of believers reach a generation that is not just spiritually empty, but seems to lack any apparatus for receiving the spiritual at all? It’s not a matter of filling an empty cup; it’s working to ensure that the cup itself even exists.


Of course, when I am still, when I am ponderous, I find the Spirit reminding me that I frequently misplace my own cup.

Hello, my name is Jared, and I am an idolater. (Hi, Jared.)

Dan writes:
I don’t know how to meet that problem. Perhaps it’s too late to meet.


This side of heaven there is no such thing as too late. No such thing as too far gone.

Because of evangelistic efforts, earnest discipleship, successful churches?
No, not really.

I read these laments, and I am torn. I am torn, because I am inclined to share the despair. When I look at "those people," at "the world," I am distressed, disappointed, disgusted.
But when I look at the promises of God -- in Scripture and written on my heart -- I know that we have no reason to despair, no reason to be despondent.

No, the world won't get turned around because of Christians charging hell with squirt guns. The world won't get saved by our efforts, by our commitment to blah blah blah.

The world will get saved because of God's covenant. Because God is love, because God is gracious, because God is faithful. Because God keeps his promise. Because God upholds the covenant even when we do not.

YHWH the Creator is not willing to let his creation slouch into an irreversible mire of apathy and ambivalence; because he is a jealous God, the world is rushing toward the collision of the fullness of his conquering presence, his all-filling and all-fulfilling presence. We are hurtling towards a new heaven and a new earth, not limping toward the finish line.

While we are offended, disturbed, discontent, we are not called to hand-wringing, to emotional muteness, to grieving as those who have no hope.
We are a people called hope. We are a people living cross-formed lives precisely because Christ has conquered death. We believe in resurrection, and therefore we are to be characterized by hope.
There is a time for mourning. But hope is for all time.

We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song!
-- John Paul II

What is your song?
Does it reflect your belief that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is king, that Jesus is Lord?

You don't know my life, you might say.
No, and you don't know mine. I am willing to admit life frequently and consistently sucks. I am not willing to admit we have no hope.
How about you?

Isaiah 62 brings tears to my eyes. It is deeply moving to know that we will be called A City Not Forsaken.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
"I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary."

Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
"Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him."
And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.

Lament. Then stop lamenting and prepare ye the way of the LORD.


Bif said...

Good words, Jared. Your post along with Isaiah 62 are wisdom and gospel. Thank you

Brian said...

Thanks Jared, for turning the focus back on God where it should be. There is a time to lament, yes, and that has been sorely missing in our churches. But despair? Perhaps a momentary visit but God's people should not camp out here for long.

By the way, I think the "Easter people" quote is from Pope John Paul II.

Jared said...

Brian, you're right. Corrected.
I first encountered that quote in a Wright book, so I think that's where my confusion came from.

dle said...


Thanks for the linkage. And my condolences on the loss of your grandmother.

I'm not despairing. I just don't know how to reach those people. Perhaps I'm not the one God intends to use to reach them.

If anyone reading this is, God bless you.