HOPE AND MISSION
Click here to listen to this sermon.
What do you hope for? That your team will win, that this sermon will be short, that you wont have the same argument around the supper table today, that your family could gather around the table. Do you hope that you will find a good job and marry the right person, or maybe you hope that for your children, or maybe you wish you could? Do you hope that you can make it through the day without a drink, a bad thought, losing your temper, or a visit to a certain website? Do you hope the economy will improve? Do you hope that God will return soon, or does that thought make you uneasy and you hope you can find a way that it wouldnt?
Our inspiration and our mission, our hopes and dreams are influenced by the way we answer another question: What do you believe God is doing with the future?
Spell it out and then ask you to think through it with me ... Mission, Hope, and Gods Plans for the Future are all connected in important ways. Bible speaks of the Day of the Lord with Hope.
What God is doing with the future ...
- Revelation 7:9-12 People of all tribes, nations, and languages: These are the things that separate us. We work very hard to preserve our tribe, our nation, our language (culture). We work very hard to hold onto something we cannot always keep. We work for a future that just may not happen the way we intend.
- Humans dont have the ability to secure the future we can shape it, influence it, impact it, but we cannot guarantee a particular outcome --- this is why we hope.
- On 9/11 people of one tribe attacked people of another tribe. People of one language attacked another nation of people with many languages. The attackers believed that God was going to do something with the future they believed that God was going to establish a great empire but wicked sinful nations that stand in the way have to be crushed. They knew what the other tribe hoped for and so they targeted that: hope in prosperity, hope in security, hope in strength/power.
- After the towers fell, hopes changed We hoped that people would be found alive, we hoped that the enemy would be captured and killed, we hoped that things would return to normal. When things did return to normal, what did we believe God was doing with the future? Maybe he would give us some happiness? Maybe he would restore our fortunes? Maybe he would keep us safe? Maybe he would destroy our enemies?
- Thats normal going back to normal means hoping that God favors your tribe, your nation, and that he speaks your language.
- But on the day that was not normal, maybe we saw a glimpse of Gods hopes. Maybe for a time, when we lifted our heads to the skies, and paid attention to one another, maybe then we saw what God is wanting to do with the future. Because people from different tribes, different nations, and different languages were all covered in ashes. They spoke of the same things: evil and repentance were spoken of, God was named, prayers were shared. We wondered if perhaps God had a different future worked out. It looked just a little like the scene in Revelation 7:9.
- But then we all went back to speaking our own languages, we put on the colors of our tribes, and we secured the borders of our nations. Once again we started to pray that God would bless our hopes our hope for prosperity, for strength, for safety. And we didnt bother to consider what God was hoping. We didnt really spend much time considering his future maybe because we had a glimpse of it and we knew that Gods future doesnt always match up with our hopes.
This reminds me of a man named Jonah ...
If we cannot see past our tribe, our nation, or our language, then we do not see Gods vision of the future.
- God has a mission because God is working on the future. There is a wicked nation, full of evil tribes, and people who speak foul language. They offend God. And they offend Jonah too. Before God destroys this wicked nation, God wants Jonah to warn them, because Gods future hopes involve this nation changes its murderous, wicked ways.
- Jonah knows that, and thats why he doesnt want to do it. Because these people offend Jonah too. God has a mission that sees the future one way, but Jonahs hope for the future doesnt include that wicked nation.
- So Jonah refuses to get on aboard Gods mission. And he finds out that it is a tough thing to argue with God and try to avoid the hurricane force of Gods future and his mission. So Jonah does preach it. He warns the wicked city and tells them that they have no future in Gods future because of their evil ways. (And maybe hes loving that just a little).
- And the wicked, wicked city changes their hope. Instead of hoping in their strength, their power, their prosperity, they hope in God and his future. And God forgives them.
- And this upsets Jonah. (Jonah 4) Jonah would rather die than live in a future with people from that other tribe, that other nation, who speak a different language.
If our hope is limited to our tribe, or just our nation, and if it can only be spoken in our language, then our hope is not rooted what God is doing with the future.
What we believe about the future will affect the way we live today.
- We believe that a day is coming when God will establish righteousness as normal, sin and its corrupting power will be obliterated and so we want to hope for that day in such a way that we live like that day is today
- We believe that a day is coming when God invites all his children to a feast, a banquet and Jesus, our Lord, is the head of the table. Everyone there will be dressed for the occasion and there will be peace at that table and so we want to hope for that day in such a way that we live like that day is today.
- We believe that a day is coming when Gods stored up wrath is poured out and emptied and wickedness and evil have been cast out. There will be no more fear, no more harm, no more worry. Atonement is complete and there is reconciliation between us and God and that means there must be reconciliation with one another, for God wills it. And so we want to hope for that day in such a way that we live like that day is today.
- But yes, we know that that day isnt quite today but we live for that day and that means we have a mission a mission not for our own survival, nor for our protection or victory, rather a mission based on our hope in Gods future.
What do we hope for? What do we believe God is doing with the future?
It is time, past time ...
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 25 October 2009
Link to next sermon
Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin