Obama & The Age of Hope?

by Rick Pidcock

I usually tend to stay away from politics on my blog.  But in light of our nation gaining a new president, with new promises and expectations, I would like to take a few articles to discuss the implications of the gospel for some of these current issues and events.

For starters, check out this video from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

In the video, Jon Stewart shows a number of videos in order to humorously illustrate the fact that both President Bush and President Obama often speak in the same general terms of hope, peace, patriotism, and change.

Then at the end of the video, Stewart’s commentator says, “Honestly Jon, when Obama says this stuff, I don’t think he really means it. And that gives me hope.”

I know that I am rather young.  But I cannot think of a president that had such high expectations placed on him by our nation.  People everywhere are looking to President Obama to give them the hope and change that they need to be satisfied in life.

So I would like to briefly answer four questions concerning hope.  My goal in this is not to try to get you to vote one way or another, but rather simply to point out a few greater realities in light of the smaller realities that we are all so very focused on in our nation today.

What is hope?

Hope, as one commentator puts it, “is a psychological necessity, if man is to envisage the future at all.”  It is what drives us forward, what keeps us looking onward toward something greater–a place we’ve never been.

Yet, hope has not always been considered a virtue.  Many poets have referred to hope as, “faint, trembling, desperate, and phantom.”  Why? Because while hope points us to a greater future, it always leaves us unsatisfied with the present.

But when the Bible refers to hope, it is referring to something that gives us hope, not only for our future, but also for our present time.

Hope begins by being connected to God. Ephesians 2:12 says that before salvation, we were “having no hope without God.”

Hope must be understood in the context of faith.  If we are connected to a Sovereign, infinitely powerful God by faith, then we have the potential for infinite hope–not just for the future, but for every moment that God is Sovereign, which includes the present.

Hope simply rests its confidence in the belief that its object can accomplish what it claims it can and will accomplish.

Who gives us hope?

Many people and institutions can give us small parables of hope.  My bank gives me hope that they will keep my money safe.  My insurance company gives me hope that they will protect my possessions when disaster strikes.  And my president is offering me hope of financial freedom, environmental responsibility, and cultural reconciliation.

All of these things are great.  And I hope that I get to experience security, protection, freedom, and reconciliation.

So if I truly want to experience these things, then I need to have as the Deliverer of my hope, the One that has the greatest ability to give these things to me.

My bank has power, but it is limited power.  My insurance company has power, but not complete power.  President Obama has power.  But he can only do so much.  Thus, these people and institutions can only fulfill my hopes to the degree to which they have the power to do so.

God has power to give us hope.  And His power is infinite.  So therefore, He has the ability to give us infinite hope.

When can we have hope?

If you place your faith in the infinite Sovereign God, then you can have infinite hope today.

You can expect future blessings (2 Cor. 1:10), future glory (Col. 1:27), and final salvation (Rom. 8:24).

But our hope is not merely something that will be realized in the future.  There is an already/not yet aspect to our hope that can be experienced today.  Though one day we will have perfect joy in the perfect city, we can have a taste of it today by living in the reality of that perfect city (Heb. 13:14).  Though one day we will have perfect triumph over sin, we can overcome sin on a daily basis here today (1 John 3:2-3).

God is not only sovereign in the future. He is sovereign today.  And thus, if He is our hope for today, then we can experience the already/not yet realities of that hope today.

How can we share our hope?

Many believers, though rightly thankful for their hope, have turned their hope into commercialism rather than sharing it as it is meant to be shared.

Some of us tailor our message, and even water it down, just to sell people on the feeling of being comfortable in a church building.  Others of us have shared our hope by being just like the obnoxious salesmen that knock on people’s doors just as they are sitting down to eat.

Jeremiah 29:7 says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

We share our hope with our communities by simply living our lives in the reality of that hope, and by sharing with them the love that Christ has shared with us.

This verse has profound implications for evangelism, community outreach, the environment, and many social causes such as feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, adopting the orphans, providing for widows, or just doing what it takes to give our communities a greater experience of a world where God’s intentions of love, peace, and justice reign.

When it comes to politics, I know many believers who consider themselves liberal, conservative, moderate, or something else all together.  It is good for us to engage in politics and vote for the people that we believe will bring about a greater experience of a life that we all hope to enjoy.  But as we vote, we must not place our ultimate hope in men such as President Bush or President Obama.  Place your hope in an infinite God.  And then vote and live in a way that seeks the spiritual, social, cultural, and environmental renewal of your community.

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