I was going to preach about hope tomorrow, anyway. But now I guess I’ll have to change my sermon. The reality of the need for hope just hit home for the people of Paris. And when it hit home for them, it hit all too close to home for us, as well.
Without getting into the politics of all of it, we know that our faith and our free lifestyle are now targets. We’ve seen the evidence of it in the Christian martyrs who have already given their lives for their faith just over the course of the past couple of years. These are dark times. Racial issues divide us. Politics anger us. Terrorism terrifies us.
There is really only One Thing that can bring hope into the midst of all of this.
In the aftermath of the acts of terror in Paris, the hashtag #prayforparis began to trend. One Paris artist responded with a cartoon asking us not to pray for Paris. He wrote:
Friends from the whole world, thank you for #prayforparis, but we don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and joy! #parisisaboutlife
He’s right about one thing: they don’t need more “religion.” I feel very badly for that cartoonist, and so many others, who have only temporal things in which to trust. To put it bluntly, what they need is more Jesus. He’s the only One who brings comfort, peace, and, yes, hope to a situation that seems unbearably horrific. He’s the only One who delivers comfort in the face of brutal death. He’s the only One who says to those left behind: There is hope.
Whom else do you know has conquered death and the grave through His own bodily resurrection? What other faith delivers forgiveness and freedom from sin in the miracle of baptism? Who else but Christians can say to their loved ones: “Death is not the end. I will see you again.”
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)
In light of what’s going on in the world, we don’t know when the end or our end will be. But for those with faith in Jesus we do know One Thing: When the end comes, we will be saved. We will, as N.T. Wright says, live a life after life after death. We will put all of our gifts and talents to use joyfully loving and serving one another while loving and serving our Savior in the new heaven and new earth that will be created especially for us. And there will be no more dark times, racial issues, politics, or terror of any kind.
As Henry Lyte wrote in the old hymn:
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless; Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still if Thou abide with me. (Abide With Me, Stanza 5)
Yes, there is hope. Even, and especially, in times like this.