by Russ Cripps, AcaciaChurch
My wife and I had saved up frequent flyer miles for years, we had deposited every quarter and dime we could find, all in the name of experiencing a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate 20 years of marriage.
From Rome, the cruise liner charted south where we traveled through the historic Straits of Messina. On one side of the ship are the mountains of Old Sicily and on the other side there is the southern most tip of Italy. It didn’t seem far to the naked eye, but the Straights are easily two or three miles wide with rapidly moving currents. To say the entire moment was pretty would be a vast understatement; it was utterly breathtaking. As we stood on the rear of the ship I gazed deep into the eyes of the one I had loved for the last 20 years. In a gentle voice I asked, “If I pushed you off this boat, you think you could swim to Sicily?”
Not exactly the question one usually asks while celebrating a 20-year anniversary, right? In fact, a question like that doesn’t allow a marriage to make it to the 20 year mark! Stephanie giggled at me but then actually gave me an answer that has deep meaning and a vast application. “Sure I could. As long as I could see the shore, I would have hope, and I could keep on swimming.”
While her logic is debatable among swimmers, her illustration about hope is powerful for all humanity.
Hope is arguably the most precious commodity among humanity. In fact it’s been said that someone can live without food for weeks, without water for days, without air for minutes, but not one second without hope.
- Hope is powerful and the kind of hope I present today, the kind of deep hope that each of us crave, is different from simple optimism. Hope is a trusted state of existence whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude. Optimism is about the head; hope is about the heart.
Now let’s get personal. If you are, as Scripture says, “in Christ,” then you have experienced true hope. If this is you, then Colossians 1:27 describes you, “…it’s Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Or as one theologian profoundly penned it: “Hope came in person and surprised the whole world by coming forward from our future, directly into our present, all to erase our past.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, hope has a name. His name is Jesus. In other words, for those “in Christ,” hope isn’t something we do, hope is someone we have!
Here is where this can apply to you. This is where the hope that you have found can make an eternal difference in the life of another. Jesus said that the Church was His (Matthew 16:18). He also said He was going to build that church, and you and I get the privilege of helping Him in that endeavor!
My point is this: the local church is still the hope of the world. And if you’re a part of the church, then you are a part of that hope. Christ chose the Church to be stations of hope for humanity. The local church, covered in bumps, bruises, flaws, and shortcomings, is still the hope of the world.
The local church remains the vehicle of choice that God uses to change lives. What we have to do is realize and embrace the fact that even though we’re broken, we can still bring hope. We (the Church) are facilitators of hope. We can do this!
We are the facilitators of hope that God uses to reach the hearts of humanity, and as long as others can see hope in us, maybe they’ll have enough strength to keep swimming toward the shore.
About Russ: Russ is the founding Pastor at AcaciaChurch, a young and growing church that is just over four years old. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Religion from Gordon-Conwell, and holds a B.S. degree in Finance from ULM (Monroe, LA). Russ has years of experience in various types of ministry and he completely “believes in believing in people.” He can also run really fast downhill.