Where Is Your Hope?
The first time I heard it was at a Word of Faith church when I was only a teen. The pastor said words to this effect about the Christian life: “Even if none of this were true, I would still live this way, because it works.” It makes sense that a promoter of the prosperity “gospel” would think this way. After all, the whole focus is on living the good life, with all its material blessings, now.
But I heard it again a few years ago from an evangelical friend: “Even if I die and there is no God, I will be so thankful for the joy of having believed and for having enjoyed ‘Him’. . . I will not regret having believed even if I find out I was wrong.” This statement so disturbed me that I am still thinking about it four years later.
Yes, there is the logical problem of thinking there will be any thinking at all, let alone any opportunity for evaluation and gratitude, after death if there is no God. But there’s a deeper problem. My friend’s statement suggests that knowing Christ and someday meeting face to face the God who took on flesh to sacrifice His life for us, is not our great treasure or hope.
I am by nature and nurture a pragmatic person. Pragmatism is a made-in-America philosophy that places value on what is useful and brings practical success. It allows for religion, true or not, insofar as it gives people a sense of meaning and purpose and moderates their behavior for more desirable outcomes. In other words, what is most valuable about faith is the ability it gives us to enjoy life now. It troubles me how close I can come to agreeing.
Yet I know that Christianity is not a set of ideas to make our lives better and happier in the here and now. It is dying to this life in anticipation of being with the Savior who we love far better:
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” Col. 3.3.
And so I ask, is Christ my life? Is He your hope? Have we traded in our earthly hopes and dreams for the anticipation of seeing Him face to face? Can we honestly say with the apostle Paul, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied”? 1 Cor. 15.19.