A church leader reflects on the message of Easter…..
A Wellspring of Hope
Jesus conquered death. That gives Christians their reason for living, says Rob James.
People view hope very differently.
For Henry Miller – the American novelist – it was “a bad thing”.
On the other hand, the Swiss theologian, Emil Brunner, could write: “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.”
Miller seems to have been criticising the type of hope that refuses to face up to reality, that allows us to live in some kind of dream world. Brunner was identifying the kind of hope that gives meaning and purpose to life, even in the midst of difficulty and disappointment.
Mary (not her real name) would have sided with Brunner.
Mary’s husband died suddenly while they were holidaying in France. It left her traumatised, having to face the prospect of bringing up a young family all alone.
But, Mary says, God spoke to her one day while she was visiting her husband’s grave.
To begin with, a rainbow appeared in the sky and, to her amazement, a chrysalis metamorphosed into a butterfly before her very eyes.
It was at that moment that Mary discovered the transforming power of hope.
But was this mere coincidence?
Nothing more than wishful thinking? Can we build our faith on such serendipitous moments?
Thankfully, we don’t need to for Mary’s faith is based on something much more substantial. Her faith is both reasonable and reliable because it flows from the fact that Jesus conquered death.
I did not come from to faith easily.
I was almost banned from my wife’s youth group because of the joy I took in rocking the spiritual boat.
I even presented her with an ultimatum on one occasion.
I told her she had to choose between God and me. Thankfully she chose him. (Just as thankfully, God allowed her to marry me!)
Like C.S. Lewis, I came to faith reluctantly, accepting that the evidence left me no option. But I have never regretted the decision, for I’ve since discovered that the resurrection is a wellspring of hope.
I have been able to face the rising tide of secularism and growing lack of interest in the church, for example, with a sense of equanimity and confidence, knowing that nothing can stop Jesus building his Church.
I have also discovered that it means that, once we entrust ourselves to God, he is always at work in our lives for good.
And there have been a few occasions when that’s been evident for all to see.
On the other hand, I have to admit there have been many moments when I have had to take this on trust.
But the resurrection of Jesus assures me that one day I will be able to review the whole of my life and still reach the same conclusion.
The resurrection inspires me to share my faith with a sense of confidence too. And I have seen the most unexpected people come to faith.
Tom’s story illustrates this wonderfully.
Tom (again, not his real name) was a rebellious youngster who even trashed my church study on one occasion.
He seemed completely impervious to any Christian influence, but he finally came to faith in the most dramatic way – and with the most dramatic effects.
He even replaced the audio equipment that he had stolen a decade earlier (I had not even known he was the thief until then).
Is it any wonder then that the apostle Paul could say to a young Christian church “Don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”
Paul knew that some tasks may seem hopeless but serving Jesus is never one of them.
[‘A Wellspring of Hope’was first published in Worthing-based Inspire magazine, the UK’s good news monthly – subscribe at www.inspiremagazine.org.uk’]