There is a word that, whether I chose it or it was handed to me by my predecessor, seems to be the center of our church’s ministry and the ministry God has lead us to bring to the people in our small town. That word is Hope. While there are people in our community that talk about revitalization and growth in the community there is one major component that seems to be missing and that is hope.
Sure there are things people “hope” for in our community. A beautified downtown, a more connected community, a return to the glory days of our city, these are all hopes and dreams I have heard thrown around. The fact is these hopes are really only coming from a few, for the most part the community has given up hope or really doesn’t understand what hope is in the first place.
This community has lost hope because for so long this community placed it’s hope in the wrong things. They have placed their hope on the community, on industry, and on other human factors. The problem is when we place our hope in these human things they will always fail and when they do more likely than not we lose our hope completely. It is tough when you see a community essentially giving up.
The problem is almost everything in life is temporary. Everything decays, except for one. We know there is one thing that will never decay, that will never die, that will be eternal, that is God. God, manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is eternal. God tells us in the book of Revelation that He was there before the beginning of the world and He will be there at the end (Revelation 1:8). God is the hope that we should be placing our trust in. The author of Hebrews tells us the importance of where we place our hope. By placing our hope in God through Jesus we are given hope that leads us to the eternal, that leads us to the everlasting, that leads us to God, whom will never pass away (Hebrews 6:19-20). This is the where we need to place our hope.
It isn’t always easy to place our hope here, because God doesn’t work on our time, God works on His own time. The author of Hebrews uses Abraham as the example of delayed gratification, of what future hope really should look like. God promised to give Abraham a child and make him a great nation. This promise did not happen overnight. Abraham had to wait fifteen years before God gave him the son he was promised, but we are told, “thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15). So while we place our hope in God we also have to realize that hope may take time to manifest.
While it is ok for our town to love its history, love its heritage, we need to not place our hope in these things. We must place our hope in the only thing that will not pass away and that is Jesus Christ because he is the conduit to God and when we place our hope in God He will never disappoint.
Pastor Richard Wilkinson, is of the Gloversville Free Methodist Church and the Center of Hope Ministry Center. His blog is at http://theology4thword.blogspot.com.