On the first day of the week for nearly two millennia, the followers of Christ have found a time and place to gather with one another for the purpose of worship and oneness. Most of us would casually deem these groups of people as “religious gatherings”, inadvertently diminishing the significance of who we are, what we are doing and why. Certainly there is plenty of religion to go around if you have an appetite for it, but within those religious throngs there is a remnant of people who have been previously pierced to the core of their being with the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. The old has been extracted and the new has been injected. We are a saturated people full of gratitude, peace, love and joy. Speaking personally, the most amazing thing that I recognized had been placed within me after my conversion in 1994 was the presence of something I had never had before. I met hope for the first time and we became fast and close friends.
“…a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” – Hebrews 7:19
If there has ever been a season in my own lifetime when hope is and will remain a premium, it is the here and now. Darkness is encroaching and many are living with a sense of foreboding concerning what is to come. We have political upheaval around the globe which is directly collected to the fragility of the global economy. Don’t you sense that we are just a few moves away from a potential global economic collapse? If that occurs, many people’s hope is going to swirl down the drain. We have civil unrest here in America with racial clashes, moral sabers being rattled, clear lines being divided between the culture and the Church and a general sense among the young Americans that there is little which holds true meaning anymore. I am not sure how anyone who is informed could say that they are encouraged about things here. Yet, the followers of Jesus have had a better hope introduced and it is in this hope that we draw near to God and find our peace.
Jesus did not establish us here with a promise of permanency. In fact, we are repeatedly reminded in scripture that the earth and its ever-changing systems are never to be the well from which the Christian draws hope. Our hopes are grounded in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, the promises of God in His word, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit who is the deposit on our secured inheritance. We are citizens of an everlasting city and our identity is rooted in the One who has welcomed into His Kingdom. Everything and anything you might see, hold, taste or lean upon today will not last forever. We are an open-handed citizenry which is not to cling to anything below. The children of God live in a constant state of receiving and releasing while we are on earth. We do not look horizontally for our hope because, from the beginning, we are a vertically oriented people who carry out a horizontal mission. Never forget that. Our hope is settled, established and strong as it has ever been. There is a shaking here below right now, and it will intensify until the Resplendent King returns. Every eye will behold Him. Every knee will bow to Him. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
This day is promised. This day is imminent. This day is pregnant with hope – the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. That is why our gathering today is not a religious exercise but, instead, a rejoicing exclamation of our joy, peace, love and hope in a King who has made this world as nothing to us. Bring that confidence and hope with you when you enter the doors of wherever you gather to worship today. Chances are, someone will be there who has forgotten the reason we come. Reflect hope to them. We all need reminding.