Articles

Jesus Is Our Living Hope

Dear Elect Exiles

As a kid, I learned to brace myself for conversations that began with, “When I was your age…”. It seemed harmless enough, but it was code for, ‘Stop what you’re doing and listen to how much better things used to be.’ I usually enjoyed the stories that followed, but I listened with a bit of skepticism and chronological snobbery. Why were older people always looking back with such fondness when there was so much to look forward to in the future? I doubted the “good old days” were as good as they remembered, and the future was an oyster just waiting to be cracked open.

But now that I’m of a certain age, I’m the one posing the age-old statement. The world looks different now for my young adult children than it did when I was their age. Back then, phones were connected to a jack, social media didn’t exist, and there was no such thing as “gender theory.” I wasn’t worried about gas prices, the next election, and when the next pandemic would hit. Life was simpler and arguably better back then, and I assumed it would carry on pretty much as usual. But if I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that my hope needs to be anchored to something solid. As Christians, we have a better and solid hope…a living one, and it’s found in Jesus Christ. Peter writes, 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”  

1 Peter 1:3-4  

Born again to a living hope

In Peter’s first epistle, he wrote to the believers scattered through the dispersion in Asia Minor and called them “elect exiles” (1 Pet 1:1). As spiritual pilgrims, they were dispossessed of their land and suffering from escalating persecution and hardship. Peter wrote to assure them their hope was not misplaced in Christ. Every day was a reminder they weren’t ‘home’ yet. Like us, they were residing in one country but belonging to a heavenly one (Phil 3:20-21). Peter wrote to remind them that their suffering was as temporary as their living arrangements. 

But suffering has a way of causing us to lose sight of what’s true. Under intense persecution, these early Christians might have doubted God was in control. They had been scattered from Jerusalem, the religious center of their faith, and now they were grieved by various trials (1 Pet 1:6). Maybe they wondered if they had been forgotten by God. But Peter, who knew what it was like to be grieved and tested by trials, reminded them of God’s sovereignty in their salvation. 

It was God who drew them to himself in his great mercy; it was God who caused them to be born again; it was God who gave them the hope to carry on, and it was God who had laid up an inheritance waiting for them in heaven. It’s as if Peter was saying, “Oh, dear, elect exiles! Trust God, who did the greater work of raising Jesus from the dead, to do the lesser work of delivering you through your trials.” The power source behind your salvation’s past, present, and future state is operating out of great mercy toward you. You’re not left to yourself; you’ve been born again to a living hope.

What does living hope mean?

Christians are born into a realm or sphere of hope at salvation. The Christian’s living hope isn’t wishful thinking but a confident expectation of a future good. Unlike earthly “hope,” which is based on circumstances that may or may not go their way, a living hope is fixed to something certain and solid. It originates from a resurrected Savior, and, therefore, it takes on all the characteristics of life. A believer’s living hope is growing, active, vigorous, and strong, and as they mature in Christ, their hope intensifies.

Our living hope also leads us to our heavenly inheritance, which is being kept in heaven for us (1 Pet 1:4). This inheritance is so precious that it can only be described by what it’s not. It’s imperishable and won’t rust, break down, or wear out like everything else. It’s undefiled and can’t be tainted or stained by evil or selfish desires. It’s unfading and won’t wither and die or lose its luster and shine. This inheritance, which is ours because of the work of Jesus Christ, is being kept in the safest place in the universe just for you.

As wonderful as all of that is, what if the elect exiles were anxious that they couldn’t remain faithful to the end? Would they forfeit their inheritance if they denied Christ due to worsening persecution? Peter preemptively assured them they were being guarded through faith for salvation, as revealed in the last time (1 Pet 1:5). The Greek word for ‘guarded’ was a military term that meant God was keeping them safe and carefully watching over them. He always protects and preserves his saints, effectively shielding them with his power and ensuring they will be brought safely home to receive their inheritance, come what may.

A better strand of pearls

For Christians, being hopeful isn’t dependent on circumstances going our way or favorable political or economic outlooks for our children. It’s not wishful thinking for a better future or nostalgic longing for a simpler time. It’s a living, breathing, active hope based on a risen Savior and an eternal inheritance awaiting us in our heavenly home.  

Charles Spurgeon once called these verses “a string of pearls, a necklace of diamonds, and a cabinet of jewels. These comparisons may be poor, but in Christ, we have something far better than all the riches the earth can ever typify.”

Dear elect exile, regardless of your age, you should be characterized by hope. Wear your living hope on your face and around your neck, displaying this treasure of pearls and diamonds for all the world to see. 

You are rich in Christ, and your future is bright. Jesus Christ is our living hope.

Cara  

P.S. Can you read about your living hope without singing Phil Wickam’s song? I can’t. Here it is, in case you need to be reminded of how rich your living hope is!

P.P.S. Do you want to learn more about how you can enjoy God’s Word through holy leisure? Grab this freebie and you’ll receive new posts straight to your inbox.

2 Responses

  1. Cara, what a great insight into the living hope of the believer. “We have this treasure in jars of clay….”
    Thank you.

  2. So good!! I love how you said our inheritance is so rich that it can only be described by what it is not. That’s FIRE

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