A Living Hope

toddler-in-leaves-631626-mThe Apostle Peter starts his first letter, after his greeting, with a statement about God. First he identifies Him as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” then as the One “who has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:2, emphasis added).

Hope is a noun but not something I usually think of as animate. So what does Peter mean, “living hope”? Some commentary anchors this phrase in what Peter says next: our living hope comes “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Almost this makes it sound as if Jesus is our hope! 😉

Such an idea fits with other passages in Scripture. Jeremiah refers to the LORD as “the hope of Israel (17:13a) and Paul referred to Jesus “our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1). But if this living hope comes through Christ’s resurrection, is He the object as well as the means? Through Jesus we have Jesus? There’s truth in that statement.

But what’s the “living” part? First, Jesus is alive. We don’t hope in a man who lived and died, merely leaving us an example to follow. Yes, Jesus is that, but He is a living example, a living Savior, a living Lord.

Second, our hope has a purpose: we hope as a means “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:5).

All those describers indicate life. Something that is imperishable is alive, something undefiled will not spoil, something that will not fade away is permanent, something reserved in heaven is everlasting.

Backtracking a bit, this living hope is something we have because God “who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope.”

Birth yields life. Until God causes us to be born again, we are dead in our sins. When He causes us to be born again, we are alive in a new way. Old things have passed away. New things have taken their place.

An analogy of this new life might be the change that occurs when a baby learns to crawl, then walk. His life used to consist of lying on his back watching shifting shapes pass by and listening to the music or voices of those nearby. When he was hungry, he cried; when thirsty, he cried; when wet or poopy, he cried; when tired, he cried; when bored, he cried. He was about as dead as any living thing can be.

But one day, he learned to crawl, then to walk. Slowly his world expanded and he came alive to all that this world has to offer. Now he could follow his mom and dad and imitate them. He could discover beauty and kindness and faithfulness and love. He could aspire to more than watching the world go by and listening to the sounds around him. He could now do the things he saw his parents do.

In a nutshell, that’s what our living hope, our new life in Christ is all about. Colossians 3 says we have “laid aside the old self with its evil practices and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him.”

In other words, our new birth enables us to walk so we can be like God, our Creator. The old self, the dead self, has no hope of becoming like Christ. It’s dead. It doesn’t become anything. Only a living being, someone born again, can become like God’s Son.

Our living hope is Jesus, the one who is the means by which we are born again and the one in whose image we’re being recreated. That’s now, and it’s an imperishable inheritance as well. Living and everlasting.

Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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