Recovering Christian Hope
by Chris Clements, Youth Work Program Director
The scriptures teach us that Jesus is the Word of God. In Jesus, the head of the Body of Christ, all things were created, and all things hold together (Col 1:16–18). By comparison, in our modern pluralistic society, there are many claims circulating about who God is, or is not. Some people have stopped caring about any of these claims in any form, for they are happy, comfortable, and content with what they have. It is into this situation that the church proclaims among the confusion, that there is real hope in Jesus Christ.
In the past, God has called his children to himself. Recently, I have been reading about the spread of the gospel on the Korean Peninsula. It is understood that the first Canadian to step foot on the Korean peninsula arrived with the intention of translating the Word of God into the Korean language. At 24, he was a recent college graduate who, in 1888, sailed from Vancouver to Busan. Upon arrival, he shepherded a fledgling church that would go on to establish a Bible school in Pyongyang, where a revival event occurred in 1907. This event saw the sending of pastors and evangelists across the Korean peninsula. A 2010 estimate places the Protestant church in Korea at about 14 million people.
People who study the spread of the gospel observe that the Spirit tends not to work in predictable patterns. Yet what is true about the gospel’s spread is that the Word is preached, that repentance occurs, and that the church is established. It is through hearing the Word of God the Creator, that human life turns into Christian life (Rom. 10:17).
Christian hope is not just wishing, but Christian hope is patterned on the real person of Jesus, who has promised to be with the church in its mission. In many places across the history of the church, in addition to Korea, we see this simple truth evidenced. There is a place for reflection on techniques and situational practices for spreading the gospel in North America. Yet among all the important things that should be said to the church in North America, we remember that Christian hope in Jesus does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5). Christian hope alone is realistic, because Christian hope takes seriously the real presence of Jesus in our world.
In our pluralistic age, our larger culture is often either indifferent or resistant to Jesus. Christian claims make less and less sense to people whose desires are already within reach. And yet, despite how foolish it may sound, we confess that Advent and Resurrection – two events in the life of Jesus – are real events. Advent and Resurrection have happened, and they continue to happen (Rom. 8:11).
Another revival event captured our attention this past winter in Asbury, Kentucky. History is yet to be written and evaluated on the Asbury revival, but one thing seems good to believe from this event: God continues to use the church to call his people to himself. It is not outrageous for people who believe that Advent and Resurrection really happened, to also believe that God can use our Canadian church, in our context, also as viable witnesses to the Christian hope of the gospel.