Yesterday I wrote about my own fear of suffering and persecution. Today I am going to talk about our hope. Our hope cannot be discussed without first talking about our redemption in Jesus.
Those of us who put our faith in Jesus believe that God is the Father, who is the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. We believe that Jesus is the only Son of God who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a life of love and reaching out to the people of Israel, was betrayed into the power of evil men, and was crucified on a cruel cross where he truly died.
When he died, he descended into hell to preach the Gospel to those who were there, and then on the third day after his death, he rose from the dead so that the men and women who loved him on earth could see the power of God. They then understood this was God’s plan from the beginning so that humanity could have a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through Jesus we have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is the only way to have that relationship.
So what does that mean for us who believe? One thing is does for us is that it removes all fear from our lives. If Jesus, whom we believe, loved us enough to die for us, he loves us enough to give us the abundant life he promised us. So that means we don’t have to fear death. We can live strong and courageous lives because we have a hope in Jesus who promises us a place in heaven with him when we leave this earth. Because we know that Jesus promised us a place where he is and where we’ll be, we can know, what Bonhoeffer said when he said that death is only the beginning of true life.
Now, I’m not talking about playing harps on clouds, because I believe that heaven is more than just sitting around on clouds. I can’t begin to know what it will be like, except that I know we will be productive and we will be in adoration of our God. Then we will see perfectly and know what it is that was done for us so long ago.
Here on earth, we can’t begin to understand what God did for us when he sent Jesus nor can we begin to understand what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross. Now, on this earth, our abundant life starts as we give more and more of ourselves to the Holy Spirit in obedience. The Holy Spirit is the one that came in Jesus place and is as much God the Father as God the Father and as His Son, Jesus. Bonhoeffer told us in The Cost of Discipleship that only those who are obedient believe and only those who believe are obedient. That means we give up all our rights and hand them over to the Lord to do with our life as he wills. Jesus showed us the way, when he asked the Lord to let the suffering pass from him, “nevertheless” he said, “not my will but Yours be done.”
As I pray the “nevertheless” prayer with Jesus, I know I will draw ever nearer to God and if that means suffering for him as well, then I guess I will need to find a way to wrap my head around it. Then maybe I can come to the place where I can say with Paul, “I long to suffer so I can know Jesus better.” Yesterday I wrote about not being there yet. I’m still not there, but maybe I am a nano 10^-9 closer than I was yesterday.