Sunday School

 

June 14, 2020 Minister Avery Ford

THE EXPRESSION OF OUR HOPE!

We are now in the second lesson in the new series called “Living With Hope In A Broken World.” Few if any would probably disagree with the relevance of this title. It’s how we navigate in the contrary and contradictory seas called this world.

I’m conflicted at times addressing current events because of the passion and lack of direct information available to the general public. During the time Peter wrote these scriptures in the lesson today the political climate was, as it is now, unstable. He was writing to believers who by general consensus were being oppressed

**Disclaimer don’t get offended**

We are all different and have varying experiences through which we draw from to develop our personal conclusions. Drawing from the whole body of scripture, there is a way that we, as believers,should express our hope.

For those who read this years from now let me paint a picture of what’s happening in our world today. The U.S. economy is just starting to reopen after being all but completely shut down,barring essential services. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in February 2020,which is the lowest it’s been in the nearly 50 years, to 14.7% just two months later. Since the great depression of 1929 there have been no years yet alone months that have experienced a more than 10% increase in unemployment. That means that at least 10% of the workforce, now has no way to support themselves or their family. In addition, people have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Looks like the perfect recipe forpublic outrage and riots. This economic collapse was not as a result of a failed industry or an unfortunate alignment of worst case scenario’s. It was done deliberately as a measure to protect the population against a severe pandemic.

Who would have thought stimulus checks would have spiked the crime rate? Then like out of nowhere a video goes viral showing a man losing his life by a police officer. It was the longestnine-minute video that I’ve ever seen. Those in charge all be completely changed their position on the necessity of social distancing, as protest were encouraged to release the flood of emotions stirred by that video.

So here we are, but what do we do?

How can we as believers live with hope in this broken world? How as believers are we to express this hope? Let’s look at the Scriptures in today’s lesson.

1 Peter 1:13-15 King James Version (KJV)

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

In the verses above Peter’s addressing the early Christians scattered abroad and persecuted due to the political climate. Then like now, it’s easy to forget the simple teachings of Christ being distracted by all that’s going on in the world around us. Jesus said if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me. Then like now, the mission of Christ remains the same. Jesus commands us to work while it is day for night cometh when no man can work. Simple but powerful words to help us stay focused. I’m amazed by Peter’s choice of words, he says for us to Gird up the loins of our mind. The word “loins” often refers to our private parts. The parts of us not to be shown to everyone. A place where intercourse and conception take place. A place of passion that spurs the emotions and affects the course of many of our actions. “Gird” in this text literally means to make proper and bind up.

Get your mind right!

There’s so much passion involved as we as humans try to deal with the apparent injustices that abound in this world. The believer’s response should be the opposite of streaking.By streaking, I mean running naked in public so everyone that would look can see all your business. Compose yourself before you let all that is in your mind spill out. Everyone shouldn’t hear everything you are thinking.

Regardless of appearance or abundance of things in this life, anyone without Christ has no hope. Tragedy and chaos makes this reality more obvious as the unbeliever looks for hope. They should be able to see this hope in all that believe.

1 Peter 1:16-20 King James Version (KJV)

16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

As believers we are commanded to be holy. Scripture is clear and leaves no ambiguity in this regard. Holy here means consecrated. Consecrated mean set apart for ceremonial purpose. Kind of like mama’s furniture in the front room or Christmas plates thatonly get used once a year. We as believers, at all times, must be ready to give a count for the reason of our hope. No, I’m not talking about fake it till you make it. I’m talking about growing in Christ to the point that we sanctify ourselves, preferring to share the words of Christ more than our own.

It’s not about how you feel, it’s about what he said

It’s not about how you feel, it’s about what he said. And it’s definitely not about how you feel about what he said.It’s time that we get to work, it’s daytime and night is coming soon!

1 Peter 1:21-25 King James Version (KJV)

21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Putting things in perspective we must recognize everything in this life is temporary. All our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died that we might live with him forever throughout eternity. Our hope is in Christ! This hope is shown when we lift him up and make his name great in the earth.

If you fall apart during calamity who will look to you for help?

Should the believer’s response be the same to current events as non-believers? Should believers spend their energy trying to change society through activism and social justice? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I believe the scripture provides us direction. Sure, there’s some level of “it depends” or gray area. But in most cases, it’s safe to say the answer is no.

Let’s look at one final familiar scripture, John 3:16.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Because of love God sawa need for change. Mankind had one problem that encompasses every category. Yes, he saw one problem and that problem is SIN. It is sin that separates us from God. It wasn’t just certain sins like racism, violence, greed, or even murder, it’s ALL SIN. Our only hope to become justified and have a relationship with the Righteous one is Jesus. God could have, and still can, change the present circumstance. Instead he has given us a choice, or a chance to choose. A chance for us to change ourselves rather than the world. We have a chance to inherit a perfect world. God isn’t changing this world he is creating a new world. The New World is available to all that receive Christ and work to make his name great in the earth.

Remember, in the good times and the bad, Christ is our hope. He’s not part of our hope. He’s the entirety of our hope. Lift the sacrifice of Christ above your sacrifice. Lift the gospel over your philosophy or opinion. Lift Christ’s completed work on the cross above all your virtues. Lift God’s love for mankind above your preference of people. Lift Jesus as the solution to the SIN problem over all manners of social reform.

Nothing in this temporary world can rival the world to come. Often times it’s tragedy and misfortune that opens one’s heart enabling them to receive the message of the gospel. We must be careful not to replace the reason of our hope with platitudes and good intentions.

LET CHRIST AND CHRIST ALONE BE THE EXPRESSION OF YOUR HOPE!