Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Does Hope Look Like?

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet.3:15)

Well, what does hope look like? This verse says, if people around you are conscious of hope springing inside of you, sooner or later, they’re going to ask why. Hope catches the attention of people, especially when they’re fresh out themselves. Two things stand out to me in this verse.

First, genuine hope has a reason behind it. We’re not talking about, “I hope, I hope, I hope” here. That wouldn’t impress anyone. We’re talking about the “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb.6:19). The kind that turns heads—and hearts. I don’t think I need to enumerate all the reasons behind the hope you and I as believers share. Suffice it to say, when you consider the alterative to being a true, Blood-bought child of God, everything—and everyone—else is hopeless, in the true sense of the word, by comparison.

The second thought that occurs to me is what I referred to at the beginning. Hope is visible. You don’t have to accost people with the news that you’re its proud possessor; they will see it and want to know from where it came. This is not “Soul-winning 101.” This is soul-stirring on the run! It’s ordinary people like you and me, in the ordinary situations of life, displaying extraordinary faith and hope. Not just in what we say, but also in how we look; because, if our words say one thing, and our countenance says another, most people are going to believe what they see. That’s just the way it is. Oh, I’m not talking about a mindless grin, and I don’t just mean a turned up mouth. I’m talking about a real smile that comes through the eyes, from the soul. This may not cover the whole implication of the verse, but it sure makes a good place to start.

I saw this played out once in a college English class. After several weeks, the professor asked me, as I entered the class one day, “One of these days, I want to find out what’s behind that smile.” And I can tell you, over the remaining weeks of that course, I told him, early and often! I was even able to present my testimony in song.

Be ready, says Paul, to give an answer when someone asks you why, in the most hopeless situations, you still have hope. First Peter 1:3 tells us that through Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, you and I have been “begotten again unto a lively hope.” Not just a living, but a lively hope…alive and kicking.

What does hope look like? It looks like the God of Hope living inside hopeless humanity. If it’s in there, say so; and, for goodness sakes, show it.

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