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The basis for hope lies outside us and is centred in Jesus, writes Christopher Holmes.
Is there any hope?
That is the question confronting the thoughtful observer of the human condition.
The answer that the Christian faith gives is a resounding yes.
Many people think, perhaps, that hope in our day is simply irrational.
Look at all evidence to the contrary, they say.
Wars, famine, gross economic inequality, domestic violence, environmental degradation, just to point to a few things.
Christian faith champions the deep truth there is one ruler of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "making all things new''.
See Revelation 21:5.
Hope, therefore, is not a matter of wishful thinking.
Rather, it involves renewed sight in relationship to Christ.
Faith sees truth that is inaccessible to worldly wisdom.
The question of "who rules the world?'' for instance is answered for Christian faith in relation to the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth.
In this, the season of Easter, the Church announces this radical message.
There is a ruler of the world and his name is Jesus.
Jesus' rule is very different from what is usually apparent in our worldy rules.
Christ exercises his rule not through military or economic power but rather from the cross.
Therein we see profound compassion and suffering love.
Christian hope is anchored in the fact that this is the way of God.
When Christian faith talks hope, it talks Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection.
This is, of course, deeply embarrassing and scandalous for many.
How can the history of the world, indeed the universe, turn upon this first century Jew from Palestine?
The problem with the world is not far away from your heart or mine.
The human heart is deeply hostile to God and God's purposes.
Jews and Christians call this "sin''.
Sin manifests itself on a personal level and a societal level.
Think for example of greed.
At the heart of Christian faith is a poor man, Jesus of Nazareth.
His poverty is rooted in his wealth as the "exact imprint of God's very being''.
See Hebrews 1:3.
The riches he brings is new life, forgiveness from sins.
Through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, he enables us to love God and to love our neighbour in God.
We are profoundly restless creatures who seek rest in anything other than God, though many of us sense deep down that God is where true rest is found.
The kind of rest God gives reorients heart and mind.
Learning faith and learning hope is a matter of trust and of obedience to God's commands.
One of the things I teach beginning students in theology is that theological understanding depends on what kind of person you are.
A person who receives their life in relation to Jesus Christ and his body, the Church, is the kind of person who receives the capacity to understand the things of God.
Theology is, after all, a matter of faith seeking understanding.
Understanding comes from God, as does faith, as does the truth.
Hope derives from God.
The way that God makes the world new is altogether shocking for us.
God makes all things new by fulfilling the promises made to his people Israel through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Faith trusts this.
A truly rational account of all things hangs upon this claim.
In sum, the basis for hope lies outside us.
The centre of faith, hope and love is the Lord Jesus Christ.
He teaches us that our life is found in him and therefore with our brother or sister.
The New Testament book of James instructs us that in caring for "the orphan and widow in their distress'', we meet Jesus, see him and learn to love him.
We receive the gift of sight and discover that "God's foolishness'' is, as another New Testament writer put it, "wiser than human wisdom''.
- Christopher Holmes is a senior lecturer in theology in the department of theology and religion at the University of Otago and an Anglican priest.