Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Where’s the Hope?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Standing only four foot six inches tall at his adult height, Alexander Pope was a man of great hope. His short stature was caused by a series of illnesses, not the least of these being a form of tuberculosis that affected his bones and caused severe curvature of the spine. Born in 1688, he lived his entire life in England, and died at the age of 56. He was ridiculed for his physical appearance, and later threatened with death because of his writings. In his later years, he never ventured outside of his house unless accompanied by his Great Dane and two loaded pistols.
Yet when anyone studies English literature, they read Alexander Pope. You may be familiar with one of his most famous writings entitled Essay on Man. It was an essay that proclaimed his faith in an eternal God who was not only the creator, but the controller of all things. His theology may not have been very good in most other aspects of the essay, but in this one thing, he had learned and proclaimed an important truth – God is in control.
Yet his application of that truth was severely lacking in his own philosophy of life. He believed that the only way God’s sovereignty was revealed to people was through their happiness. Happiness justified God’s existence. And because man is not very happy, and his own life certainly wasn’t, he spoke of man’s existence as a constant pursuit of the unattainable. He called that hope. And in his essay he writes:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
How sad this is. To live life believing that we never reach the point of blessing, but are driven by the eternal spring of hope to pursue it. Maybe someday my life will change sufficiently so that I may experience happiness.
Unfortunately, many people – probably most people – live their lives under the same deception that hope is a wish for something better rather than a guarantee of present blessing. That’s because they have not set apart Christ as Lord in their hearts. Happiness is their lord. Wealth is their lord. Fame is their lord. Acceptance by this world is their lord. And unless Christ is Lord, all other lords lead to hopelessness.
Vast numbers of people in the world today believe in nothing more than fate. If they believe in a God at all, it is a God who is disconnected with the human race and has left people to fend for themselves. To most people, the future is in their own hands. God is not in control, and has no final outcome in mind. We the people determine the outcome. These are people without any real hope.
Yet Alexander Pope was on the right path when he said in another essay, A God without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but fate and nature. I only wish there was evidence that he had set apart Christ as the Lord of his life. But there’s no way to change that today.
However, there is something that can be done about our hearts today. I long to know that you have set apart Christ Jesus as Lord of your life. I want you to know the hope that springs eternal in the human breast when man in Christ is fully blest. The soul, content, while confined from home, rests secure in the life to come. It is a hope that is sure. It is the guarantee of the life to come, and that life is the final glory of God.
Spend some quality time right now asking the Holy Spirit to evaluate the status of your heart. Who or what is on the throne of your life. Who or what have you set apart as Lord of your life? What motivates you to activity? What drives you? Is it hope that something better from this world is just around the corner? Or is it certainty that something out of this world is just around the corner? If we as God’s people would set Christ apart as Lord of our lives, our hope would become the conversation piece of our culture. They will want what we have , rather than us wanting what they have, when what we have is true hope.