Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hope and Peace in Believing

April 13, 2017

Tonight marks the fourth year the churches in the Jamestown area have sponsored "One in Christ," an ecumenical Maundy Thursday worship service. The music as always, was outstanding. I was in my twenties when what we now call contemporary Christian music burst on the scene with primarily short choruses, usually with simple three chord progressions. The musicians today take it to an entirely new level with music and lyrics that are every bit as good as the old hymns and anthems we used to sing.

The theme of the evening centered around the epidemic of addiction that is plaguing our nation and our region, with preaching was as powerful and energetic as I have heard in a long time, that focused on our hope in Jesus Christ. A number of Scriptures were highlighted, but one in particular stood out to me. Romans 15:13 says, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." When I listen to people talk glowingly about their relationship with Christ, I often wonder to myself what it must be like to feel his presence, power, and protection so clearly. I often wonder what's wrong with me that I am only rarely moved in these ways. Then I read texts like this one. It doesn't say, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in feeling," but in believing. Here is the crux of the matter. I (and I don't think I'm alone in this) tend to believe my feelings more than my beliefs, and whenever I focus on how I feel about Christ, everything comes up short. It is our faith that God honors, not our feelings.

So tonight, I am reminding myself of what I believe and in whom I believe. Hope is not wrapped in my feelings, but in my faith. It is when I believe that the Holy Spirit gives hope. Even as I type these words, the Holy Spirit is quietly building joy and peace. These feelings are a result of my faith, not the foundation of it. And for that, I am thankful.

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