Two brief things of note.
I went by Borders with a friend today, who was looking for a book. He then headed to the self-help section to have a look at the books on offer there.
It’s pretty amazing how large the self-help section of any bookstore is. Yet perhaps it is also unsurprising.
When you remove God from the center of the universe, and our lives for that matter, we don’t simply leave a void behind. We always substitute it for something else. In this sense, we are all guilty of idolatry. And the first idol in the Bible was the wisdom of man.
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. – Genesis 3:4-6
I find this rather prophetic. In desiring wisdom, she turned away from the true source of wisdom and literally helped herself to some fruit. This is the origin of the self-help culture. The problem is we are seeking gain in the wrong place. There is only one Giver. And He has given us the greatest gift of all.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. – Philippians 3:8-9
. . . .
The second thing is this idea of hope. It has increasingly captivated me for the past few days. What is it about mankind that constantly looks to the future? What is it about mankind that it always looks for hope?
Obama sells hope. Self-help authors and proponents like Echkart Tolle and Oprah sell hope. Even some ‘Christians’, like Joel Osteen, sell hope!
Hope is popular. It is always in great demand. There is never a recession. In fact, it is one of the few ‘goods’ that grow in demand when an economic recession hits. There’s always a bigger dream over the horizon. A higher ambition. A loftier goal. Mankind is never satisfied. It always hopes for something better.
In this respct, I would argue we are unique. I can conceive of no other example in the natural world which constantly hopes for something better.
Hope is a good thing. We are creatures of hope. We hope because we are aware that this is not the best of worlds. We hope because deep down we know there is something better.
This is why Christians are to be the most contented of all humans. We know this is not the best of worlds. We know there is something better. We know this because Jesus Christ stepped down into history to tell us this very truth. And He then proceeded to rescue all who repent and trust in Him into His kingdom in a most glorious fashion. We look forward in hope of the consummation of the kingdom, of life and joy eternal in the presence of God forever. And unlike earthly hope, this is not an uncertain hope; it is a sure and living hope, built on the surest of all foundations, the blood and righteousness of Jesus.
I leave you with a rich doxology of hope.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:3-8