Hopeless End or Endless Hope – Easter 2

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  [I John 5:4-5]

A Rev Gilbert M Beenken once commented, “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.”  That’s quite a statement to make, and yet the season of Easter puts this comment into stark contrast in our world.  Really, without Jesus, what kind of hope is offered in the world?

Some may cling to the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation, yet unlike the West’s romantic idea that this declares a comforting “second chance,” actually for those who live under that doctrine it is regarded as a curse.  Reincarnation’s main idea is that the wrong that one does in his lifetime will have to be undone in the next, and the bad things that happen in this lifetime probably are the result of evil that one did in one or more past lives.  So supposedly we have a chance to try again, only we are carrying the baggage of who knows how much comes from the past, and yet you will never know what you had done wrong in the past so as to avoid it this time around.

The problem is that we know of really nobody that is perfect – and that is just what we see on the surface.  Really, other than Jesus, have we ever heard of anybody being perfect?  Even those we regard as the kindest and gentlest of souls are often the first to admit that they have their problems. Therefore everyone, including ourselves, would be condemned to yet another lifetime.

There are some current religions that try to build an eternity based on human selfishness, for instance, some are merely disguised promotions for the man’s selfishness for pleasure.  Some of these faiths have glibly tried to pass the wife off as a “goddess,” yet she is a very secondary figure to her husband.  Then again, Islam’s “72 perpetual virgins” may sound great in the ears of a man, but for half the humans in this world – the women –, there really is no hope to be found.  In fact, according to Islamic authorities, hell is said to be populated basically with women.

But actually, does such a system based so heavily upon selfishness really hold much hope even for the man? – the problem with self-centered gratification is that it eventually wears thin when placed against a backdrop of an endless eternity.  After all, when one is preoccupied with oneself, it actually is a very small world.  Consider the book of Ecclesiastes, where “the Preacher,” after having amassed everything, still must face the question, “now what?” – and at best it is a most uncomfortable question.

Some have turned to evolution as the symbol of hope, because human fantasy believes that here, now, is something that speaks of how things are getting better and more perfect.  Yet in reality, it is a philosophy of despair, with a most depressing picture of what the final future holds: ultimately, the end of all things is simply a nothingness; there is nobody out there to care about anything; and, once the last card has been played, there will be nothing left which would notice anyway.  Truly Rev Beenken had it right when he described some as having “a hopeless end.”

Science is often regarded as the savior of mankind, that for example, just tweaking our genes will bring about the wonderful humanity we have longed for, perfect, with potentially endless life – we can even end up with people manufactured the way we want them to be.  Yet with every advance of science, there seems to always be a dark side in which the potential for evil increases as well.  And when you think of the history of when humans fiddle with nature, like African bees in here in North America, or rabbits in Australia, how often have the good intentions only ended with unthought-of negative results.  As much as we may wish, there really is no hope to be found even here.

Some are thrilled with social media like texting and tweeting and Facebook, yet does having contacts all around the world really hold hope for a better humanity as seems to be assumed?  Unfortunately, greater sophistication is confused with progress in being human.  Although we may be connected with hundreds of “friends” around the world, more and more we tend to ignore the person sitting right in front of us, often treating them as of secondary importance when our iphone insists that a message has been received and just must be answered immediately.  And are we really more human when embarrassing pictures of others are posted, or is it simply that we practice a subtle abusiveness as we expose others to ridicule?

Rev Beenken had said that the Christian has the security of not “a hopeless end,” but rather “an endless hope” – how does Jesus’ Resurrection declare this to us?

The most solid and dependable generic prescription maker has accompanied a plain drug called price levitra 200mg. These training programs also teach to effectively recruit, motivate, train and evaluate people for their issue as is the only drug to cure impotence so effectively out of people. There are but choose always the best. He is known for his effective and safe way. The major difference to all of these other empty offers of hope is that foundation of the Resurrection is built upon Love.  But we have to be careful here because so many things are labeled “love.”  How important it is to remember that Easter springs from Good Friday.  This is a Love that comes not from a root of selfishness, but rather from a wondrous self-giving Love.

After all, we celebrate not merely that someone would give his life for the sake of other people, but that this Someone is the Creator, Who would volunteer His own self to come into human flesh.  This is not a hope that comes from a minor improvement of life here and there, but rather the huge difference because Jehovah would commit Himself in an extraordinarily close relationship to humans and that this God would give Himself even to death to take our place under the condemnation of sin.

This self-sacrifice is really hard to get our mind around.  It certainly stands in contrast to the selfishness that is promoted throughout our lives.  One can even come across attempts to redefine what God has done into a sort of selfishness, supposedly that He only did this just so that He could have a bunch of people who would praise Him.  But really, at least – I – can think of far easier and less demanding routes by which to go if that was all He wanted.

Actually what we are left with is the bewilderment that God would choose to Love to such an extraordinary degree where it would cost Himself the ultimate price – and He foresaw this demand on Himself even before He created the world.  And yet this is the reason why the Christian has the hope he has: it is not just that Jesus rose from the dead, the confidence runs far deeper – it is because of the Love that got the Creator into this situation to begin with.

It is fascinating though how often some people feel that it is their necessary mission in life to remove all hope from anyone else.  I suppose that it is because unless they can prove to others that a God Who cares is absolutely ridiculous, they would be confronted with idea that they are accountable to Him.  So they are intent on describing Jesus as merely a figment of our own selfish yearning to have Somebody greater than ourselves care about us.  Yet it is amazing that if Jesus is merely a fabrication, how He can hold the faith of billions throughout the centuries.

It is not as if Jesus merely comes out of nowhere.  From Adam and Eve onwards, God has been talking about what He would do.  In His Covenant with Abraham, He vows that He will die if ever He breaks this relationship.  In the book of Zachariah, it is prophesied that He would indeed break Covenant and that the context would be where thirty pieces of silver is paid as His worth.  When Good Friday happens, there are far too many descriptions from centuries, even millennia, ago for this to be merely a fabrication.  Then when one also considers what happened in the heavens for Jesus’ birth and death, no, the evidence is pretty strong that Jesus is no figment of the imagination.

The reality of Jesus then confirms that the foundations of hope which we have, which culminates in the Resurrection, are powerful and sure – and most of all, Jesus confirms that the heart of God has indeed given substance to what we believe.  The Resurrection now becomes something that we can take into our daily lives, knowing not just that a resurrection is possible, but the very Love of God is what fills it with awareness this is indeed for us.

Jesus offers this reality to us today.  Here in Holy Communion, the Resurrection Himself, with the same self-giving we see on the Cross, offers Himself to us once again.  What a joyful thing it is to have confirmed to us that this is for each individual that is here.  What a wonderful thing it is to be called away from all the empty hopes that surround us to the hope backed up by the deep and steadfast heart of God.  This is not merely for some good feeling, or for some far distant future day, but rather Jesus is here right now for our daily lives – the Resurrection comes to touch our days and nights with this Hope that will not fail us.

The Resurrection, as it did for the early disciples, gives a confidence so that we can boldly live Jesus in thought and action; that we know that God is involved in an extraordinary and personal way with our lives; and that we have a hope that makes our days meaningful, that makes our actions significant and our thoughts centered in God’s will.  The Holy Spirit has used Baptism to declare that we have been made closer kin to the Creator than the angels – because of Jesus being made one of us, we therefore are privileged to be regarded in the heart of God as equals to Jesus, we are placed into the honor of being the children of God.

Today we are called upon to turn away from the false hopes that surround us in this world and stand upon the solid rock of hope that celebrates more than a resurrection from the dead – we celebrate the heart of a God Who has powerfully and deeply loved us; Who has chosen to be part of our world; Who reaches down to forgive and to raise us up to become the image and reflection of the Heavenly Man, that is, Jesus.

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