How do we get and maintain a Christ-centered and Christ-hallowing hope?
This past Sunday we studied 1 Peter 3:13-17. In this passage Peter is equipping believers for life in a hostile world. Our supreme responsibility (in preparation for life a hostile world) is to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.
To prepare ourselves for a hostile world, we could study theology and apologetics (the “defense of the faith”), or we could read books on how to evangelize. But, while those things are good to do, our supreme preparatory task is to continually and genuinely worship and cherish Jesus Christ in our hearts. We must hope in Christ.
Since Christ is Lord of all, the Sovereign King of the Universe, the Great Redeemer, the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all things, the thrice Holy God, and the Source of wisdom and strength, He is worthy of our hope. He is the only One worthy of our hope. We must embrace this truth in our hearts and set Christ apart as Lord. If our hearts are this pure – so pure that we put all our hope in Him – we will be prepared for life in a hostile world.
This Christ-centered and Christ-hallowing hope will cause us to be zealous for good deeds. It will cause us to count our unjust suffering as a blessing. It will banish all other fears. It will cause us to stand out from the world so that people will ask us why we are different. It will cause us to give a reasonable defense when people ask us why we are the way we are. And, this hope will cause us to live a life of integrity – maintaining a good conscience.
Perhaps in our study of this passage thes past two Sunday mornings you have had thoughts like these…
- “I do some good deeds, but I wouldn’t call myself ‘zealous.'”
- “When I suffer unjustly, I have a really, really hard time with that. I really struggle to see it as a blessing. I certainly wouldn’t say I ‘greatly rejoice.'”
- “I am a somewhat fearful person. There are many things in life I avoid because I am fearful – and, no, I’m not referring to my avoidance of extreme sports! I’m afraid of things like driving, talking in groups larger than two people, and going down to the basement to put things in storage.”
- “I don’t think unbelievers would really notice I’m a Christian except that they see me go to church on Sundays. Other than my once-a-week attendance at church, I don’t think my lifestyle evokes any kind of interest or questions from unbelievers.”
- “On occasion when unbelievers have talked to me about my faith, I didn’t really know what to say.”
- “There are many times when I go against my conscience. I think I do it sometimes because I know I can ask God for forgiveness later. Other times, I just don’t think about it much. I just do it. In fact, sometimes I’ve thought some other Christians are just too strict.”
If you’ve had thoughts like those, hopefully you see the need to fix your hope fully on Christ. Hopefully you acknowledge that these problems in your life are indications that you are not properly setting Christ apart as Lord in your heart. So, now I can get to the real issue of this blog post…
The question is…how do we get and maintain this hope in Christ? How do we learn to hallow Christ in our hearts?
First, pray for it.
In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us to pray, “hallowed by your Name.” Jesus is praying to the Father in this passage. When we make such a request we are praying for the Father and for the Son to be glorified. The Father is glorified in the Son (John 14:13). So, pray for this continuously. Pray for you and for others to hallow Christ. Make it the focus of every one of your prayers.
“What am I really asking for?” you ask.
You are asking God to cause people (you and others) to hallow Him in their hearts. You are asking God to cause you to see that He is more beautiful, more holy, and more satisfying than anyone or anything else in the universe. Pray that for yourself and for others continually.
Your request can be a general one: “Lord, help me, throughout my life, to see your exceeding and unique beauty and value.” But, your request should also get more specific. Here are some examples:
- “Lord, as we decorate our house, help us to remember that you are the real joy-Giver. You alone can satisfy us. Our house – no matter how beautiful you allow it to become through our decorating efforts – can replace you.”
- “Lord, as we begin our week-long vacation in the Poconos, I pray that you would help us to enjoy you. Whatever pleasure we receive through our time of rest and relaxation, help us to see it as mere tastes – even diluted tastes – of the pleasure we can receive through knowing and loving and obeying You. Help us to yearn for our eternal rest in your presence.”
- “Lord, as you know, my co-workers haven’t been kind to me today. I am tempted to lash out at them and to seek revenge against them, but I don’t want to! You are Lord of all. You are sovereign over my co-workers. Help me to remember that! Help me to remember that I will forfeit blessings if I don’t “seek peace and pursue it.” Help me to give a blessing rather than a curse. You are precious to me. You have redeemed me with Your precious blood. I know you died for me and rose again for me so that I will give blessings rather than curses. I believe your promises. I commit myself to honoring you in this situation.”
Second, look long and hard and frequently at the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ.
Your ability to hope in Christ comes from Christ. Don’t look inside yourself for the ability to hope in Christ. There’s nothing there.
I have heard others say, “I cannot hope in Christ. I have tried before and failed. I cannot do it. It makes me angry when I see other Christians hope in Christ, because it is something I simply cannot do. I am hopeless.” What is the answer? I tell you…
Look away from yourself to Jesus Christ. Only He can give you strength to hope in Him.
Jesus died so that you (Christian) would hope in Him. He didn’t die simply to entice you to hope in Him. No! He died for your hopelessness. He nailed your hopelessness to the cross! He redeemed you from your futile, hopeless way of life!
“You were not redeemed with perishable things…from your futile way of life…but with precious blood…the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21).
Hallelujah! Christ has come to rescue us from hopelessness and unbelief!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3)!!!
I’ll leave you with this glorious thought. I’ll write more tomorrow, Lord-willing. Until then, pray and focus on the crucified Christ.
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