Hope is 1/3 of Our Strategy

The three theological virtues associated with salvation are:

•   Faith – steadfastness in belief

•   Hopeexpectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up

•   Charity/love – selfless, unconditional, and voluntary loving-kindness such as helping one’s neighbors.

On this second sunday of advent, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ and our meeting with him upon his return or our death, the readings bring us messages of hope.

Hope is many things.  When one is hopeful he/she:

•   has the feeling that a desire will be fulfilled (What do you desire most?)

•   is centering expectations on someone or something (Who is the center of your life?)

•   has expectations and wishes (What do you expect on earth? After the death of your body?)

•   is optimistic (what is the source of your optimism?)

Christians are hopeful because their lives are based upon the expectation that they will spend eternity in heaven with God. As we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and take-on the mind of Christ we are walking, talking examples of optimism personified. We also understand that we can create heaven on earth because we were told, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

It’s important that you and I are filled with hope so that we can dedicate our lives to loving and serving the people around us who have resigned. I am not talking about people who have left their jobs for a new position.  Resignation is an acceptance of despair, it is the act of giving up.  We hear it daily in language like, “why bother?”, “what’s the use?”, “Why complain, no one cares anyway?”

You and I know why we must never give up. It is our responsibility to share that good news with others. We should always bother continuing because although what’s ahead of us might appear difficult, nothing is impossible for God.  It is okay to bring your complaints to God for God cares and is always listening. There are answers to every problem that we face.  Faith allows us to believe that God will always provide for us. Hope allows us to be optimistic while remaining faith-filled.

In today’s reading from Romans (Romans 15:4-9), Paul tells us that “Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  He’s telling us that the scriptures are not just historical documents which describe our ancestors’ faith,  but they are the living word and are addressed to and meant for us. Frequent reading of scripture allows us to remain true to Christ’s word and always optimistic.

In this short passage, Paul gives the Romans a beautiful blessing that includes a message of harmony and hope:

May the God of endurance and encouragement

grant you to think in harmony with one another,

in keeping with Christ Jesus,

that with one accord you may with one voice

glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am genuinely hopeful that you and I will be in harmony with each other and with every single one of our neighbors on earth and that together we will love each other and glorify God.

When we’re filled with the genuine optimism that comes from being blessed with God’s love and grace, we’re able to light a spark of hope within everyone around us.

Christians have a strategy. Hope is a third of our strategy. Hope complements our faith and our love.

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