In the past month we have witnessed fire damage, hurricane forces, earthquakes, flooding, and now a mass shooting where at least 59 have died and hundreds wounded. Not to mention the famine in war torn countries, genocide, and persecutions that happen all around the world every day. We need to remember that tragedies can happen anywhere because we know that the darkness and evil principalities are seeking to destroy us. However, let us not despair. Psalm 92 proclaims this, “How awesome are your works, LORD! Your thoughts are so deep! Ignorant people don’t know – fools don’t understand this: though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers seem to blossom, they do so only to be destroyed forever. But you, LORD, are exalted forever! Look at your enemies, LORD! Look at how your enemies die, how all evildoers are scattered abroad! But you’ve made me as strong as a wild ox. I’m soaked in precious ointment…The righteous will spring up like a palm tree. They will grow strong like a cedar of Lebanon. Those who have been replanted in the LORD’s house will spring up in the courtyards or our God. They will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain lush and fresh in order to proclaim: ‘The LORD is righteous. He’s my rock there’s nothing unrighteous in him.’”
The question that we must ask ourselves is, “Where do we find our hope?” I find this question very relevant in our current situation. Many of us are seeking to find hope in the darkness by looking at human actions. Last night I was scrolling through Facebook and found many people posting the line, “there is still good in the world.” I watched a video from the Ellen DeGeneres Show where she states, “I promise you, there is more good in the world than evil.” She then went on to show her favorite moments on her show where she presented good human actions that have taken place. It is very heart-warming segment. I do not disagree with Ellen DeGeneres. There is more good in this world than evil. This is a true and real statement that sometimes we forget. However, my hope is not in human actions, but the actions displayed in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When we put our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our vision of this world and our own lives shifts. We begin to have a true and real hope. This hope is not built upon a natural sophistication of human culture. That type of hope believes that humanity can make this world into a utopian culture because we have progressed intellectually, spiritually, and technologically. A good illustration of this type of hope is seen in the science fiction of Star Trek. This is also seen in the media (Hollywood & news) perception of social justice, equality, morals, and human rights. Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and many other celebrities understand this type of hope to be the reality to end evil. Maybe this is the type of hope that you know and believe in. This type of hope does produce good in the world, I mean if you watch Ellen’s video you do see a lot of good being done. However, this type of hope produces outward change and lacks the power to produce inward transformation. This type of hope forces the outward change hoping that it will dictate inward renewal. That is the fundamental flaw.
Real hope that can actually change the world focuses on inward change that is seen on the outside. This is where the hope that Christ brings to us begins. The resurrection begins in our lives with the “washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3) When this occurs in our lives our hearts are transformed and resurrected. From this new life comes the renewal of how we see the world. We are not weighed down by the evil in the world because we now have the power of life living within us. We face the evil of the world, not looking for the good but creating the good with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our hope is not focused on what humanity can do, but what the Lord of all Creation is doing. God is resurrecting the world from darkness and death. This hope that Christ gives is not utopian optimism, but a hope that places God at the center. It is a hope that is willing to die so others can be saved. It is a wiliness to not look at self, but at others. As the Psalmist states above: evil is like grass that springs up, but is destroyed, the righteous is like a palm tree or cedar tree that produces fruit year after year.
Where do we see the difference? I was told a couple of weeks ago that when dealing with devastation like hurricanes or tornados there are two responses. One is the CNN effect. It is news worthy for a short time and then the news moves on. Take for instance it has been a month since Hurricane Harvey. Now that the hurricane has passed and the clean-up is going on, where is CNN, FOX, MSNBC? Where are the celebrities? They have moved on. This is why statistics show that giving and helping begins to dwindle after the first week of an event. I am sure that the mass shooting in Las Vegas will fizzle out and all that is left is the victims trying to pick up their lives after losing a loved one or being one of the victims who were shot. Yes, some good will be seen and maybe some awareness will be taught, but soon it will just be another statistic that will be used to reveal that the utopian optimism is still not obtainable. Whereas the hope from Christ is in it for the long haul. People who follow Christ will be in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas cleaning up the mess, helping the people, showing the love of Christ not because it is the right thing to do or to produce good in a world of evil, but because the hearts that have been born again are now living the good and love that is being produced in their hearts.
This is what the fools don’t understand. People who put their hope in something other than Christ do not understand that evil has already been defeated. Goodness and Love has already won. It didn’t claim its victory when the police stormed the hotel room and found the evil person dead. It claimed its victory when God was put to death on a cross, but rose three days later. Since that day evil has lost and is losing. This is why evildoers die and will not win, because God has already won the battle and conquered all foes, even death. What hope do you have? Are you living that hope in the world?