Ever know something you simply can’t figure out how to explain with – English? Or any language you may know. That feeling of both frustration and wonder with something you can sense, you almost feel or touch, but can’t explain. There are no words, only pale metaphors and similes.
If you thought of something, then just imagine how our Creator feels as He tries to explain to simple-minded creatures just how vast is His love for us. And yes, we are simple-minded. It’s just the way it is, it’s best to get over it. He loves us anyway, so no shame, just smile and thank Him.
We have a few clues as to one of the weirdest part of our life with our Creator, while still trapped here on earth. One of them is found in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19 NASB
To us has been committed the ministry of reconciliation; the spreading of the message that God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our trespasses against us. So, what we’re doing here is spreading a message for our Savior. Okay, but how do we do this? If you’ve tried, it isn’t easy. People want proof. What proof do we have? Well, then there’s this passage:
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:14-16 NASB
There seems to be a responsibility to give an account for the hope that is in us. Fun fact: this world is hopeless. Not so fun fact: Disciples of Jesus seem just as hopeless. Why is that? Are you? Or, in the face of all the pervasive evil of this world, do you persist in hope? Or, as you look at this world, does the hopelessness seep into your bones? Does the evil seem to overwhelm you? It might. There’s a lot of cultural and societal pressure to give into the hopelessness. And then God tells us this:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 NASB (emphasis mine)
We have everything to hope in. And our hope is sure, not an imaginary illusional thing. We have the guarantee of the Spirit of our Savior within us. Okay, yay! We have a hope, but what about this world? As the passage above says, we face a lot of stuff every day. How do we do that, and maintain our hope over time? There are two things we are to do.
First, we live our lives:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’
Jeremiah 29:4-7 NASB (emphasis mine)
This is about exiles, or those under the punishment of God. We’re not here because of judgement. But, like them, we are aliens in a strange land. Like them, we live among foreigners. Unlike them, we are actually here as ambassadors (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). This isn’t judgement, it’s a ministry. But, like them, we are to live among those around whom our Savior has placed us. Like them, we have hope (see Jeremiah 29:11). But there’s more.
Second, we endure:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— for He says,
“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”—
giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 NASB
Notice how Paul slips into this paradoxical comparison toward the end? We are considered deceivers, but true. We are unknown, but well-known. And so on Paul goes, what is perceived about us is false, and what is true is richer, deeper, and more real than what can be perceived.
This is why we have a hope to be explained. This is why we have something that marks us as different. While the world burns itself to ash, we stand untainted by smoke, with another standing with us. We have a hope, and we need to live, to love, to interact, and react in this hope.
I love that last line of 2 Corinthians 6:10, “…as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing, but possessing all things.” Live as if that were true. Then we will have something to explain.