A Living Hope Colours Our Attitudes

Ephesians 3: 14 – 21; 1 John 3: 1 – 3.

Our view of life essentially determines our attitudes to it, and would invariably impact our interactions with everything and everyone around us. However, as believers, saved by grace, we have an absolute, unshakable Christian hope that transformed our outlook towards this world, due principally to Yahweh’s promises which never fail (Joshua 21:45; 1Cor 1:9). Our faith and hope are buttressed by Who our God is, in the historical testimony of His scrupulous and noteworthy dealings with His people through the ages; it traverses beyond their doctrinal moorings and involves personal and accountable interactions. Paul intimated that to be indwelt by Christ is to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16-17; c.f., Rom 8:10-11), but when Christ is not allowed to express Himself through us, our lives would entirely be centred around our self-possessive inclinations and self-driven goals. Being in Christ is to be inextricably intertwined inside-out in an intimate relationship with the God of history, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, where our inner being would be inconsolable if we were not experiencing His Presence (c.f., Ps 84:10).

What is the basis for Christian hope? God’s self-revelation in the Scriptures informs us that no one in the flesh can see Him and live (Ex 33:17-23; 1Tim 6:16), but one day, we shall see Him just as He is. Even at a human level, it stands to reason that one will only be truly transparent with those whom we love and trust implicitly, with whom we have an intimate relationship, who fully understands our being and idiosyncrasy without condemning us. Hence, the unequivocal forthright statement from the Apostle John makes perceptible common sense: When He appears, those whom He loves, whom He calls His children, will inevitably see Him as He is – in all His holiness and glory (1John 3:2-3; c.f., 1Cor 2:9; Rom 8:17-19; Phil 3:21; Col 3:4). And just by having our hope fixed on Him in this future-oriented promise will enable His Holy Spirit to empower us, rooting and grounding us that we may know the love of Christ and be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph 3:16-19; c.f., 2Cor 4:16); with our attitudes more closely align with His, as we mirror Him to the world.

How do we get to that point where our hope in God consumes us? The Apostle Paul’s intercessory prayer suggested that we ‘bow the knees before the Father’ (Eph 3:14); deliberately setting our face in seeking God and relating to Him. Paul did not emphasize the need to constantly seek palpable divine encounters, in contrast to our experiential environment where feelings and emotions are paramount, neither focusing on just head knowledge, but to intentionally submit ourselves in seeking God’s will and purpose as His disciples, and together with the community of Christ, ‘to grasp fundamentally’ or ‘to appropriate to oneself inwardly’ an understanding of the deep things of God (Eph 3:18). Accomplishing this would require an unfathomable encounter and revelation of the love of Christ (Eph 3:18-19; c.f., Col 2:7). The principal objective is to be able, like Paul, to sacrifice everything for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil 3:8), where both the inexhaustible knowledge and His love are mutual; and in both, it is clear that God in Christ who takes the initiative.

Furthermore, an immersed appreciation of the purpose of the cross and the work of Jesus Christ on it is critical if we are to appreciate the love of God (Rom 6:3-11). To know the love of Christ is to know Christ Himself in ever-widening experience in our lives and to have His outgoing and self-denying love reproduced in us. If He dwells in His people and them in Him, it could not be otherwise. It is hyperbolic to expect the finite to reach the infinite in God’s measure of fullness (Eph 3:19), but in Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells, and in whom His people find their fullness (Col 2:9-11). Then it becomes explicable that it takes the whole Body of Christ to attain the fullness of God in the knowledge of His love. God’s capacity for giving far exceeds His people’s capability for asking or even imagining, but He has given us His power through Christ (Eph 1:19-21) to grasp the reality of His gracious purpose for us in the church, which is His Body, to declare His glory as witnesses in this world and through eternity (Eph 3:20-21).