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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hope

In article discussing Karl Barth's "Theology of Hope" there is a reference to George Steiner who argued that 'when there is no hope all that one is left with is the desire for non-existence or early extinction'.

Hope provides a goal or orientation which can make existence worthwhile and fulfilling. A crucial element in constructing a valid Christian theology of hope is to explore the potential and implications of the Kingdom of God.

Much contemporary pessimism results from previous unfulfilled promises from politics, literature, the media and even the Church. How does the Church communicate a message that provides realistic hope. Barth emphasised that "Jesus Christ is hope". This suggests that eschatology cannot simply be the study and proclamation of the end times but must be the message of the eschatos, he who is the end, Jesus Christ.

I would suggest that a static historical proclamation of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, as true as it is, does not tell the whole story if we cannot begin to comprehend the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit because all those who choose to give their lives to Jesus become a part of the Kingdom of God here and now. Eternal life is not a future goal to tide people through rainy days. We enter into eternal life once we join ourselves to Jesus.

Christian witness that cannot encompass a hope that is inbreaking here and now and which provides an ultimate hope that is real is unacceptable for many people today and rightly so. The days when people would blindly accept their lot in life whilst hoping for a better chance in heaven are largely gone. Christians need to explain clearly and articulately the hope that we have. If we do not live with a clear sense of hope grounded in Jesus Christ then no wonder that many Christians have little to say to their neighbour in terms of being a credible witness to the faith.

Church meetings, home groups, worship, personal study needs to become a "significant practice of hope". For all of the faults of the Israelites they nonetheless struggled to maintain a focus of hope through the prophetic voice. Lord, raise up prophets today who will reignite the message of hope that is transformative and empowering for all people.

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