Living This Hope Together

I have been preaching the last few weeks from 1 Peter. In 1 Peter 1:3, we get the phrase, “Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus is our Living Hope!

As we move into 1 Peter 2, we are instructed and encouraged to live this hope together as a spiritual house. Peter, no doubt, had in mind that we live this hope together as the church. In Matthew 16, we are introduced to the idea of the church as Peter confesses Jesus as Lord.

Most of us here in South Louisiana think of the Mississippi River as we see it crossing over the bridge as we enter Baton Rouge. The Mighty Mississippi! This mighty river, second longest in the world, has its start as a trickle in northern Minnesota. Before the River empties in to the Gulf of Mexico, 41% of our nation’s rivers have emptied into the Mississippi River. Do you see the picture—hundreds of bodies of water (some small, some big) all becoming one river?

Then there’s the beautiful oak tree so common to our area. We have one on our property across the street in what we call the College House Lot. There’s the beautiful oak in front of St. John’s Cathedral. There’s the Oak of the Evangeline down in St. Martinville. (Thousands of people board a bus and travel to St. Martinville to look at this tree.) And to think that these massive trees began as a small acorn!

We need both of these analogies as we consider the church. We come to Jesus, the Living Stone. The Living Stone is the cornerstone on which the church stands. From one Living Stone, Jesus Christ, the church had its birth. But, we are living stones being built into a spiritual house to be the holy priesthood of the church.

We who have come to believe in this Living Hope are living out this living hope together as the church. Or, are we? Are you? Some have concluded in this age that the church is unnecessary. They have given up on the church. They have become disillusioned by the church. Maybe discouraged? Disappointed? But those who have come to this Living Hope do not get that option. We are . . .

a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Living this hope together requires . . .

Believing what God says about the Church!

You know what I think our problem is sometimes? We believe what the world says about the church instead of what God says about the church? The world says, “Hypocrites!” The world says, “Delusional!” The world says, “Backwards.” But, watch what God says about the church! Chosen race. Royal priesthood. Holy nation. People for his own possession.

We sing it.

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

Let’s believe it.

It is time that the church stops believing what the world says about us and starts believing what God says about us. And, oh by the way, maybe it’s time to stop believing what we believe about ourselves and start believing what God says about us.