Sunday, 25 October 2015

Daily Reading: 2 Corinthians 5v1-10 'Real Hope'

"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

Hope is vague, at least it is when we talk about what our football team might do this weekend, or whether the weather will be nice, or even if she might say yes.  Hope when we use it doesn't normally come with any guarantees.  In fact I wonder sometimes if our Britishness injects our use of the word 'hope' with underdog tones, almost as if we are always hoping against hope, as if hope is forlorn because it is a hope for the outsider and the results not certain but merely wishful thinking, a possible but improbably best case scenario.

When the Bible talks about hope it is not in any way shape or form vague.  It is as the polar opposite of vague and wishful.  As Paul writes to the Corinthians about our resurrection hope - a new body, physical resurrection when Christ comes again, he does so with a longing for something that is real.  He is able to talk of what we "know"(1), of being fashioned for a purpose, and having a guarantee(5).  This is not vague, it is not wishful, it is real.

Paul is writing to sweep away the vague, ethereal, spiritual notions of the culture around Corinth which have seeped into their thinking and polluted and diluted their hope, so much so that it is making no discernible difference to the way they live.  But Paul contends that our hope is real and therefore it MUST make a tangible difference to the way we live and he spells out those tangible differences in v6-10.

Here's the question I have to ask myself.  Is my hope in the resurrection making a difference to my life, not just to my thoughts about death?  And if so how?  If not why not?  If it isn't is it because I have forgotten what my hope really is?

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