The Blessed Hope
Two thousand years of Christianity have not, by all estimations, made the faith any simpler to embrace. New believers who are attracted to the purity, the power, and the passion of Jesus Christ in the pages of the gospels are sometimes shocked when they discover how “complicated” Christianity has become. Denominations, doctrines, differences, divisions—“What happened to Jesus ‘died, raised, and coming again’?” they ask.
Well, no one set out to make Christianity complicated. But with geographic expansion, the incorporation of a rainbow’s worth of ethnic and cultural differences, and confrontations with secular culture, the faith is admittedly more complex than when it began. But complex doesn’t have to mean confusing. After all, how much more complex could anything be than the Levitical guidelines for life and worship laid down in the Old Testament? What always keeps the complex manageable is focusing on the essentials: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity,” in the words of a Puritan writer. And there is no more essential element to post-resurrection Christianity than the imminent return of Jesus Christ to earth. The complexities of the faith pale in comparison to “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (NASB).
Paul called the second coming of Christ “the blessed hope” of the church. Not “a” blessed hope, but “the” blessed hope. Indeed, the return to earth of Christ to gather all the variegated parts of his church and assemble them into a bride to which he will be joined for eternity should be the single focus of all believers (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ’s appearing is certainly the hope of the suffering church—those for whom every day is a test of faith and endurance. But it should likewise be the hope of all who understand that this world is not our home, that we are, in the words of the old spiritual, “just a-passin’ through.”
If church history, church government, and church life seem too complex at times, it may help to refocus on the future. An event is coming by which you will be blessed, and which should be your moment-by-moment hope—the blessed hope, the appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord.
God’s Promise to You: “If you wait, you will be rewarded with the appearing of my Son.”
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