12 September 2021 – Trinity 15
PERSISTING IN THE HOPE OF HEAVEN
To lead a useful and fulfilled life, it helps to have a good CV but this should not be only about past achievements but more about future aspirations. People at work need a job description and companies and organizations often post up a summary of intentions called a mission statement.
At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus proclaimed, “The time has arrived: the kingdom of God is upon you”. When God asks a person who is open to His gift of faith, “What are you doing”, our answer must surely be that we are happy to be fellow workers with Jesus in furthering God’s work of saving this world from its imprisonment to the negativity of our prevailing life styles and leading us into an entirely new way of living. This is the Good News.
For surely we are all born with a deep-rooted instinct that hope is what we live for. Without hope we are drowned in the world’s despair. History may seem to prove that this is untrue. So much seems to prove that the human race is condemned to repeat the same old mistakes and choose war over peace, and selfishness rather than generosity and yet against all the odds, human resilience persists. Out of the wreckage of war ,new cities are built and shattered communities pick up the pieces and go on persisting in the possibility of a better future. Is this nonsensical wishful thinking which is tragic and pathetic or is it simply God’s gift of hope?
I have chosen to stake my whole life and being on the reality and authenticity of this gift. Of course, it cannot be proved that I have picked a winner. Hope is about trust and not proven certainty. But in my experience, this hope has enabled me to strive to live in a positive way which seems to be creative and happy, even in the most adverse circumstances; whereas whenever I have lapsed into negativity, my efficiency has decreased and I have been miserable
It seems hope can only come out of love and love has to be trusted. There are risks. I can never be absolutely sure if I have made the right choice, but I press on in faith and looking back I am more certain my faith is being vindicated.
How is this way of living to be described? Jesus called it the ‘kingdom of God’. Perhaps for us the word “kingdom” is tarnished. I think we are more comfortable with the word heaven. I suggest that the Christian mission statement could be something like this: “To lead people to heaven, which is not necessarily a place but a state of being in which we are joyfully at one with God and one another, now and in all eternity”.
© John Allen 2021