I should probably preface this post by saying that I have a great relationship with my Pastor. We have been to Kenya together twice, experienced a lot of things together, and have talked about auditioning to be a team on The Amazing Race. So, if he reads this, he will not be at all surprised that I do not 100% agree with him on something.
A few weeks ago, the Senior Pastor at our church sent out a kind of midweek encouragement. In it he wrote about a local crime that had generated a lot of attention and excitement in the area (particularly for his family since apparently the perpetrator, who was on the run, came running through their back yard). He used that as a springboard to reflect that he believes that the root cause for a lot of criminal or antisocial behavior is a lack of hope. He then explained that at least part of the calling of Christians is to demonstrate and share the transformative hope of Jesus with others.
That got me thinking. Does my relationship with Jesus give me hope? I guess at some level it does, so perhaps he is correct as far as he goes. But, on a more fundamental level, it is not really about hope at all. Hope, after all, suggests that there is some doubt. I "hope" that something will happen when I recognize that there is some chance that it will not.
But, a relationship with Christ is about a whole lot more than hope. I don't "hope" that God will provide for me. I don't "hope" that He will guide me. I know He will. My religious beliefs give me a whole lot more than hope, they give me faith. I know that God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Jeremiah 29:11. I know that God will protect me. I know that He will provide for me.
That isn't to say that my faith is perfect and I never wonder or question - far from it. I often find myself fearful, or praying that He does address whatever concerns that I have. But is to say that I think the job of Christians is to do more than teach people to have hope in Jesus Christ. We need to help people to have faith in Jesus Christ.