“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV
Unlike the other day when the scripture I chose came out of my quiet time, this is a verse that seems to be a running theme in the world around me. The first time I gave a devotion to the Youth here at Mulberry it came out of this scripture, and it even resurfaces in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. This scripture is often one I turn to when I feel down or discouraged about what is going on around me.
I wrote in my last post about our victim mentality, how we spend so much time on the ones who have done us wrong and often we do not act with love towards the unlovable. This verse is something of a note of grace for us all, telling us about our importance in God’s scheme of things. If you look at this passage verse 10 just before begins “Thus says the Lord” which is a classic form from the prophets. This phrase means basically (to be utterly geeky and academic) “This is the direct word of God.” So this note of hope that we have from the prophet Jeremiah is incredibly interesting in our current world.
Does this passage mean only good for us, or does it mean that all those who are sincere and heartfelt in their convictions are meant for good. This is where this passage has at times been comforting and frustrating for me. I am passionate and sometimes stubborn about what I believe and what I think is “correct interpretation.” I have a hard time with the idea that different interpretations, one’s that do not agree with my own convictions, seeing this scripture in the same light. This scripture in effect tells us that God means us all good, even those who we do not agree with.
As I have said from the outset of this blog, I intend this to be a place of conversation, a place where different viewpoints can be tolerated and discussed. Also this blog shows my attempt at self-revelation, putting my mind and heart out there for people to see and examine. So far I have not said anything particularly controversial, but the time may come when I have to stand for my convictions publicly. But this grace gives me something of a buzz word for today’s world. In the last election cycle the word hope was prominent everywhere I went, especially having lived the last election cycle in Washington D. C. But long before it was a corporate ad for Pepsi or a campaign slogan for the President of the United States it was a Christian ideal.
The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley was an incredible communicator and told us much about how to live as Christians. As I am writing I have my Wesley Study Bible open to the note on the “Wesleyan Core Term: Hope” and it talks about transformation and a hope for something else. “The hope that is within us is both this-worldly and other-worldly because both are grounded in being transformed into the image of Christ.” We are to be hopeful which will in turn cause a transformation both in this world and in the next. We are to have a hope for something beyond ourselves both in this world and the next. Remember we are to work every day for the hope that we have, in the things that are unseen, but also very, very concrete. The question is how do we live that life?
Listen to this song and tell me what you think it means when we apply it to our Christian hope.