I remember, as a kid, going to “camp”. It didn’t really matter what sort of camp, they all had one thing in common: a list of what to bring. In a sense, we attempt to do the same thing with our relationship with our Creator, act like there was a list of what to bring. But there isn’t. Every bit of our righteousness is like dirty rags. Paul writes of “putting off the old man” and “putting on Christ Jesus”. Yet that’s a difficult concept to receive and live out.
But here’s why that is so crucial, if we bring anything with us in our relationship with Jesus, our hope is divided. We may hope in Jesus, but we also hope in whatever we bring. And hope is essential for faith and love.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 NASB
How can faith be assurance of something we don’t have? And if we have it, but it isn’t entirely in Jesus, then how is our faith in Jesus alone?
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13 NASB
Faith, hope, and love remain, or abide, or dwell, live together. The greatest is love, although they come as a set with the other two, and, as the previous verse makes clear, there’s no faith without hope. Hope is essential for faith, and, as it turns out, love.
Think about the idea of hope for a minute. Does it bother you? Is there a little fear, fear that it will not be fulfilled? That’s common, and the best indicator that our hope is mixed with Jesus and something else. But what does hope in Jesus look like?
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.Hebrews 12:14-16 NASB
Hope in Jesus looks like disciples actively pursuing peace with all men, pursuing the process of being made holy to Jesus, working together to ensure we reach the grace of God together, ensuring roots of bitterness are removed even as they spring up, and not permitting godless or immoral activity among disciples as if it were simply part of our culture. Why? Because we are pursuing something not of this world:
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.Hebrews 11:13-16 NASB
Paul applies the call to follow the pattern of thinking in Jesus using himself as an example in Philippians 3:7-16. In Philippians 2:5-11, he lays out the pattern of Jesus, in 2:19-23, Paul uses Timothy as an example of Jesus’ servanthood. In 2:25-30, he uses Epaphroditus as an example of Jesus’ obedience to the point of death. But the emptying of Himself, for that element of Jesus’ pattern Paul uses himself as the example in 3:7-16.
It’s crucial for the disciple to grasp this, because it is the application of hope. That is the effect on us of having hope. And it is the antithesis of what we are seeing in our nation, in Hong Kong, in Indonesia, in India, and all throughout our world. People, without hope, will follow the pattern of the devil, stealing, killing, and destroying. Only Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation