I’ve heard it said many times that the point of Christmas is hope. But…. what does that mean? What is hope? I believe hope is a blind, spiritual desire. Christian hope is then also a godly desire and it is the act of looking to the future to see a better tomorrow. When God spoke to Isaiah about a coming Messiah, the prophecy was one of hope, given to a generation that was about to undergo great judgement. But, we miss the point of hope when we don’t learn to let it go!
Isaiah 9:2, 6 & 7a reads,
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end….
The Jewish peoples held on to the hope found in these words for many generations. The idea of a saviour being born unto them in their darkest hour had become a central theme of their worship services. When Jesus was born, however, most of the Israelites missed what they had been hoping for! How is this possible!? They made their hope so specific that they didn’t see the very face of God, once He came to them.
In fact, after Jesus had come to us, then lived among us, then died on the cross and come back, and after Christ raised back into heaven, the Jewish people gave up on finding their saviour. They gave up and they took matters into their own hands. The Jewish people revolted against the Romans and the Romans destroyed their capital, Jerusalem, in 70CE. The Jews lost their home for over 1,000 years! This was all because they hoped for their Messiah yet they missed Him, when He came.
Paul claims that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).” We must let hope become faith, in order not to miss what God has for us! The Jews hoped for their Messiah, but they had such a specific image of what He would be like that they missed Him when He came. They did not let their hope become faith. But there is a cycle here, when we learn faith then we can hope for greater things. In our Christian lives, we first find our hope of salvation, then we discover the evidence of Christ in us – thus we discover faith. After we discover our faith, we hope for future promises from God. As God does more and more for us, our faith grows and thus so does our hope.
The original Star Wars trilogy demonstrates this idea very well. The series starts with a character, Leia, trying to deliver a message to an old Jedi named Obi Wan Kenobi. She says that he is the only hope! She says this because he used to be a great Jedi knight and her faith in the Jedi informed this hope. But her hope was so specific that she almost missed the real saviour in this story, Luke. Luke was a young boy, whom Obi Wan had hoped in. Obi Wan sacrificed himself because of his faith in Luke (Obi Wan saw that “the Force” was with Luke and thus allowed his hope to become faith). As everyone witnessed Luke use the force (the mystical power that connects everything in the Star Wars universe) to save them all, the people began to let their hope turn into faith in Luke. At the end of the series, Luke defeats “the Dark side” (with some help) and the original trilogy ends with another new hope that Luke will train a whole new generation of Jedi knights.
John Bunyan wrote a story, The Pilgrim’s Progress, where he explores the journey of a man named “Christian” and his journey to “the Celestial City”. Christian had only two companions throughout his journey. He first met “Faithful” after coming through “the valley of the shadow of death”. After he made it through the trialling period in his journey, he found evidence in himself of love, that’s when He discovered “Faithful”. “Faithful” died in a city called “Vanity Fair” and shortly thereafter “Christian” met “Hopeful”.
All Christians need to learn when to let go of hope, so that we can embrace faith; then we must let our new faith birth new hopes so the cycle can continue. This cycle serves the purpose of keeping us involved in our present time and keeping us engulfed in love.
The birth of Christ, then, represents a time of letting go of hope and finding faith. It’s important to hold on to this image so that we allow all of our hopes in God (whether our hopes are in future spouses, better jobs, life changes, or whatever) to become faith. “Faith, hope, and love – these three will last forever but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).” The word “greatest” here can be translated as “elder”; the idea is that love stands behind and fuels the other two virtues (faith and hope). If we want to learn to love, as Christ loved, then we must first learn to let hope become faith. So, I ask all of my readers to take the time to write out the things they are hoping for, then look at your life to see where God is already moving. I ask us all to do this so if there is anything in our lives that we are hoping for, that God is trying to provide already, we won’t miss it.
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Reading / Reference List :
Every Christian should definitely take the time to read The Pilgrim’s Progress!
Every human ever should watch Star Wars AND read the comics!
I use and love The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, the Oxford Bible Commentary, and Constable’s Notes on the Bible .