I am reading NT Wright’s biography of Paul right now as a part of my devotional routine. It has been helpful to me to pair this book with my reading of Acts for sermon preparation and a small group that I lead on Tuesday mornings.
Early on in the book when reflecting on Saul’s conversion story and the hope which filled Saul’s heart as a zealous Jew, Wright says, “Hope and Optimism are not the same thing. The optimist looks at the world and feels good about the way it’s going. Things are looking up. Everything is going to be all right. But hope, at least as conceived within the Jewish and then the early Christian world, was quite different. Hope could be, and often was, a dogged and deliberate choice when the world seemed dark. It depended not on a feeling about the way things were or the way they were moving, but on faith, faith in the one God.” (p 45)
Wright goes on to say that Hope in this sense is not a feeling but is rather a virtue. In fact, Hope is one of the three theological virtues in Christian tradition. We live in a world where unsubstantiated and over zealous optimism has harmed lives and weakened relationships. We live in a world that desperately needs the HOPE that is made possible through the person and work of Jesus Christ. I wonder what the world might look like if the cliché phrases of blind optimism were replaced by proclamations of deep, powerful, and transformational hope?
As we seek to live faithfully this week, may we strive to offer the virtue of Hope, in the name of Jesus, to all that we meet.
In Christ, Will
Published on Thursday, May 9, 2019 @ 4:01 PM EDT