When Hope comes as a Surprise

There is no better indicator of what we believe than the way we behave. As I’ve looked at where I’ve been wrong, and begun to understand God’s heart towards people and the role I have in His kingdom, I’ve also begun to see the underlying beliefs that have caused my behavior.

Last week, I read N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope. For a long time, if you asked me what I believed about life after death, I would mumble something about heaven and hell and clouds and harps.

I’d sell it short. I’d make it sound boring.

I’ve always known there was more to it, but I didn’t know exactly what that meant. Enter N.T. Wright. While I didn’t agree with all of Wright’s conclusions, he showed me what was missing. He helped me understand what our hope as Christians actually is, and it came as quite a surprise.

Eternity isn’t about an escape from life on earth. It’s about a new heavens and a new earth—redemption and restoration of God’s people and His good creation.

And if that’s the case, today matters. Everything. Our cleaning, and art, and words, and work, and pursuit of justice, and love for our neighbor. Not just because it’s what we’ve been commanded to do, but because it has an eternal weight.

Without this hope, justice is pointless. If our actions and the material world we live in have no eternal value, our only response to the problems around us is despair. And if we think we can achieve a perfect world without this hope, than we become the heroes.

We are not heroes.

We are citizens of the Kingdom of God.

This identity means that we live in a way that brings His kingdom to earth. Not because it looks impressive, and not because we have something to gain or prove, and not because He can’t do it without us, but because He has made us for this. He has called us to this.

It’s not just humanitarian work or our good deed for the day. It is our very life and breath as His people. It is the outworking of the hope that His bodily resurrection gives us. Only out of this hope can we possibly pursue justice with passion and sustainability.

Like I said, this summer has brought with it some massive shifts in perspective. I’m not sure yet what it all means or looks like, but I do know that, with a hope like this, I can’t possibly live the same way I have been. I’d love to hear your thoughts on justice and what motivates you. Let’s walk towards this hope and our lives as citizens of the Kingdom together.

My first real introduction to this was through three Rabbit Room podcasts. They provide a much deeper and broader look into new creation and what that means for us as kingdom citizens today. They also made me laugh and cry and want to jump up and down with joy. They're not long. Just take a few minutes and listen to them.

Tales of New Creation Part I—Thomas McKenzie

Tales of New Creation Part II—Jennifer Trafton 

Tales of New Creation Part III—Pete Peterson