The latest e-Bulletin from the Center for Progressive Christianity is titled “Why Do We Dare to Have Hope?“–a somewhat tepid title variation of Barack Obama’s well-known book The Audacity of Hope. In the newsletter we thus have articles dealing with the role of HOPE in the Progressive Christian path. We have President Fred Plumer talking about “hope” as an action of creative transformation, SBNR Pastor Ian Lawton arguing that being filled up with “hope” is a choice, and a book review about how “hope” brings beauty to the Christian journey.
But as is so often the case when it comes to “hope,” none of the writers seem compelled to seek out their answers in the Gospels and teachings of Christ. The reason so many Progressive Christian writers omit the Gospels when writing about “hope” is because the Books teach not hope but the trappings of hope misdirected. The disciples in their longing for Jesus to become an earthly messiah who rules over Rome become poster children for those who place misguided expectations on others.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus preaches not the audacity of hope, for hope is as common as a lack of hope: they are natural human reactions to the events around us. What he teaches (which truly is unusual) is the audacity of acceptance. To accept God’s Kingdom “at hand” even when the hand we are dealt is hard or painful. Jesus calls us not to pray for future wants but for simply “our daily bread,” because God already knows what we need before we ask him.1
Some will say, “But won’t this steal the zest from living? Won’t this allow evil to thrive without opposition? Won’t this halt the progress we all so long to see?” The answer is No, No, and No. For the audacity of acceptance should not be confused with the lassitude of resignation. Acceptance means to accept the challenge of life today, without injecting the future with our personal desires: To work with love and diligence at whatever job is at hand, no matter how small or insignificant: To embrace the skills that God has blessed us with and put them to use for the joy and benefit of others: To speak the truth, regardless of the consequences: And to forgive abundantly.
When we do this successfully, the future will take care of itself, and his Kingdom will have indeed come–and that is the only hope that matters.
Let God Almighty rule eternity. My precincts are the minutes and hours of every day. And as long as people have hopes and dreams, well then, I will have work to do. – The Devil in The Book of Life by Hal Hartley.
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- God, your Father, knows what you need before you ask him – Matthew 6:8 [↩]