I’m a podcast listener. I love podcasts. I have (or had) a podcast myself (DadPod–it’s been a few months since I recorded my last episode but maybe 2015 I will resurrect it). And, one of my favorite podcast is from Greg Koukl and Stand To Reason. Yesterday, I started listening to his latest podcast after a two week break he took for the holiday’s. It was great to get back into listening to Greg.
Greg typically opens with a 15–20 minute observation about a current event, a situation he experienced since the previous podcast or some thoughts about a topic relevant to the podcast. In general, Stand To Reason is a podcast about standing to reason for Christianity because when he examines all the other worldview possibilities, he believes that only Christianity has the correct view of the world the way it actually is and, ultimately, the only Hope to the real problems we face (namely and ultimately, death), that comes through faith in Jesus of Nazareth. In addition to Greg’s monologue’s and periodic interviews, It’s also a call-in show where he takes questions that are mainly about biblical conundrums, social or moral issues or ethical dilemma’s. He’s an apologist that I’ve come to deeply respect as he’s mentored me for many years through this podcast and the library of resources he and his team at Stand to Reason have provided.
Where’s the hope?
On last week’s program (which airs every Tuesday evening live online) which I began listening to yesterday, he opened with a thoughtful piece about the new year and how we usually enter it with renewed hope and anticipation of what’s to come in the next 12 months. Somehow, the turning of the calendar from Dec to Jan has a more unique and profound i mpact on our outlook than any other month to month transition. He also noted that not everyone enters the new year with hope. Some had a life changing event happen that will forever change their lives and there is nothing they can do about that. It could have been the loss of a loved one or a transgression in their life that created new unalterable life change for them. In that case, where’s the hope. His response was so refreshing and fit with my “word” for me this year, refined. Sometimes, things don’t go as you plan or things happen that change your life forever. It either refines you or defines you. The pressure of our poor choices or the reality of a death-filled world is sometimes overwhelming and we don’t see any hope as the calendar turns from one year to the next.
It’s in that light, Greg posed this perspective–when you look ahead to the new year with recent life altering circumstances, the best place to go is to God’s grace. And, to recognize that it’s His grace that brought you those circumstances. His grace help’s you to see that apart from Christ we are lost indeed. His grace let’s us see the world the way it really is. It doesn’t give us rose colored glasses to pretend this world as we see it is better than it really is. No, it is his grace that brings us those troubled times, whether they are self inflicted or simply a result of a world that isn’t what it was supposed to be. Our sin reminds us that we are not like Christ naturally. Our proclivity to sin, our capacity to do evil things to others and ourselves and the death we see all around us is a harsh but real reminder that though we aren’’t usually as bad as we could be, we are also not perfect. Though we may say “we’re no Hitler”, we are no Jesus Christ either. And, truthfully, we are more like Hitler than we are like Jesus.
Why is that a good thing? Isn’t grace supposed to feel better? Real grace and hope is the revelation that in the muck and mire of a dark world, a light shines. When we embrace this reality we can then rest and grab onto God’s grace being so overwhelming by helping us see that WHILE we were yet sinners Jesus Christ gave his life for us. That’s the message of the gospel. That is the good news for those who enter 2015. That’s our hope. Our hope is not in ourselves, our circumstances or the new things we will try to do. Our real hope in the new year rests completely and unalterably on the fact that in the midst of our wretchedness and proclivity to sin, Jesus Christ came down, lived among us, gave himself to the authorities who illegally bound him, imprisoned him and ultimately crucified Him so that he could rise from the dead, show us what defeating death and sin looked like and give us new life, new hope, a new “year”. That’s the grace and goodness of God.
Where’s YOUR hope?
As you enter the third week of 2015 have you been keeping your new resolutions? Have you slipped up already like me on a couple of things? Is the newness of 2015 starting to fade into the “just another year” category? Greg reminded me that my ultimate hope is not in the turning of a calendar. I’m more resolved this year to get through my goals and to stay with it even when I drop the ball or hit the wall during the year. Will reaching those goals give me the ultimate hope I need? There will be so many things that happen to me this year that are so far outside of my control that I can’t even come up with them. Let’s let Greg’s reminder to us about God’s grace in Jesus Christ be the ultimate source of our hope this year, next year and every year we are given. Then, our new year will always be filled with real hope, no matter where we find ourselves on Dec 31 watching the “Big Ball Drop”. He is our only source of real lasting hope. As you go about being better, doing better, living better (all good things and worth pursuing) that you also grasp that attaining those things pales in comparison to grabbing the hope you have alone in Jesus and that He’s the one that points us to our sin and then presents us to God through his righteousness. That’s where my hope is. You?