By Josh Butler
Many think of hope as “pie-in-the-sky,” an escapist wishful thinking, disconnected from the hard realities of life today. Christians can be critiqued as Pollyanna dreamers who are so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good.
This misunderstands, however, the nature of hope.
Hope is a revolution, a powerful presence that breaks in from the future and transforms today. Hope in God’s kingdom opens our horizons, lifting our gaze to the coming of a better world, and mobilizes us as agents in its service today.
Easter is the birth of the world’s true hope. Jesus’ resurrection has brought God’s coming future for humanity crashing into the now, the explosion of life into a world marked by death. This changes everything.
Jesus’ resurrection is not only a signpost of the future, but a power for the present. Let’s explore how.
Hope Shapes You
We’re shaped by that in which we hope. If your hope is set on getting fit, you’ll join that gym and start exercising more regularly. If you’ve been dreaming about going on that tropical vacation, you might cut back on eating out or buying new clothes in order to save up. If you’re all about acquiring that romantic relationship, you might start dressing sharper, investing in some cologne or perfume, and hanging out at that coffee shop where you know they always are.
Your vision for the future shapes you in the present.
If you have no vision for the future, your present will be dull. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:32 we might as well, “Eat, drink, and be merry. For tomorrow we die.” If there is no future, just live for the now. Cause that’s all we’ve got.
For many today, now is all we’ve got. We’re a culture of #YOLO (you only live once), so we feel the need to cram as much as we can into every moment. This makes us live in #FOMO (fear of missing out), worried we might not be getting every experience we can before we drop.
Our #YOLO shapes our #FOMO.
We become narcissistic, consumed with engineering our best life possible, acquiring happiness experiences, and sucking what we can out of people to fill our hunger. This can make us cynical, convinced there’s nothing more and left with a bleak outlook on life. Ironically, seeking to fill ourselves can leave us empty inside.
Vacant of hope.
The Future is Now
Easter, however, is a “back to the future” moment, the destiny of humanity breaking into the now, a sneak preview glimpse of the kingdom that’s coming for the world.
Jesus’ resurrection does not mean he will live forever, all by himself, while everyone else stays dead. No, it means through him we will all be raised. Jesus is the “firstfruits” from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). When that first apple appears on the tree in spring, it does not mean we have one apple to eat for the year. No, it is a sign that the whole orchard is about to burst into bloom.
Easter is the first blossom on the branch, a sign the rest of the garden is about to burst at the seams with color and life. The orchard is the whole human race. about to spring into bloom from the cold, dark winter of death.
God has exalted Jesus as the life-giving King of the human race. Paul rejoices, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). The scope of the resurrection that is coming is Adam’s family tree: everyone.
Jesus is a foretaste of what’s about to burst upon the world.
Jesus is our hope (Colossians 1:27), because in him, the future for all creation has arrived. Our coming destiny is one where death is defeated. Death is “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Corinthians 15:26), as Paul tells us, the ultimate villain that Jesus conquered at the cross and will one day overthrow forever.
Jesus’ resurrection is a game-changer—it shifts our fate from death to risen life. On the cross, he atoned for our sin—which brought death into the world—and took its punishment with him into the grave. Through his resurrection, he has arisen victorious over its power. Death can no longer hold him. And death will no longer ultimately be able to hold us.
Agents of Life
So how does this shape us today? We don’t have to live under the tyranny of #YOLO, because the gospel says we don’t live only once—our future is forever with our risen King. We don’t need to live in the anxiety of #FOMO, which can curve us inward into self-centered narcissists, because God has brought us into his life-giving kingdom marked by the redemptive power of love.
Followers of Jesus are invited to become signposts today of the future of the world. Signposts point to a direction where we’re headed, and these are just a few examples of kingdom directions we can point to:
- The coming kingdom is a place where the nations are healed, and relationships are restored. As we set our eyes on this kingdom, and allow its hope to shape us today, we become peacemakers and agents of reconciliation in our war-torn and conflict-ridden world.
- When we lift our gaze to his holy city, where the weak are comforted as God wipes away every tear from the eyes of the suffering, we become comforters today who serve the broken in our families and neighborhoods.
- When we set our hope on the new creation, where the kings of the earth bring their glory to lay at the feet of the King, we are shaped to use our strength and skillsets to serve the life of the world today, in allegiance to Jesus as citizens of his kingdom.
Jesus makes us agents of life in a world marked by death. His life-giving future has broken into the present, and, through the power of his Spirit, is with us today.
Easter has given birth to hope, a hope that can change the world.