The Christian hope in Heaven has often been criticized for being a form of escapism. Christians believe in a time when all will be made right, therefore they exempt themselves from doing any earthly good is how the argument often goes. But, is such criticism fair?
The Christian hope in heaven, as it is described in the Bible, is not optimism. At the end of the Great War, politicians said that they hoped that war would end all wars. That was optimism. Biblical hope, on the other hand, is a sure and certain hope – something we know will happen (Hebrews 12:28).
What difference does this hope make in our lives? Think of it like this: how would your life be different if you had no hope of a positive future? For one thing, everything would depend on you. Unless you fix it, it will remain broken. Unless you redirect it, it will drift off into space like a satellite knocked off its orbit.
During the National Day of Prayer, a small group of people met on our community Green in Wellsboro, Pa to pray for our nation. One gentleman, who helped lead the gathering, asked if someone would pray for whatever is needed to fix “this divisiveness” in our country. At first, I thought to myself the answer is sin, which I believe is right. But then I went deeper.
In the political arena, if you believe everything depends on you, you will do whatever it takes to push your political agenda. When my political agenda fails, I will get nasty, mean, I might even bite, because it all depends on me. However, hope in Heaven has a mediating effect.
If I have hope, my opponent – though remaining my opponent – can be my friend. Why? Because I know that Someone else is ultimately guiding the bus. We might hit some potholes, we might take some wrong turns, we might even make a mess of things, but ultimately Someone else is guiding and making sure the bus reaches its destination.
The gospel has a life-changing effect. It did in Colossae. The Apostle Paul gave thanks for the Christians there, “because [he had] heard of [their] faith in Christ Jesus and of the love [they had] for all God’s people – that faith and love that springs from the hope stored up in heaven… (Colossians 1:4-5).”
The gospel has been changing individuals, communities, even countries for centuries. The hope it offers is one reason it has done so. What difference could this hope make in your life?