Hope is the Church's biggest export
CHRISTIANS can be annoying people. If it is sunny they thank God for the sun, and if it rains they are grateful for the watering of the earth (and thank God for that).
You might think that having it both ways like this is cheating, but I think that this sort of approach to life is a result of an amazing resource for life that is freely available but not always advertised: hope.
Terry Waite was asked what role his faith played in surviving being a hostage for in the Lebanon for 4 years.
He said that faith wasn't a magic wand to take troubles away, but faith led to hope, which is the most powerful force in the universe.
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You see Jesus has given us (all of us, not just annoying Christians) an incredible ingredient for getting through life, and that is this thing called hope.
It comes both from a meaning to our existence – we were created for a purpose – and the future of a life lived with him.
When we contemplate life there is a sense of it being a journey that has fulfilment at the end. And it is this sense of direction and destiny that brings hope and meaning to our existence.
And it is so much more than looking on the bright side of life.
Vaclav Havel wrote, 'It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.' When I see how a sense of meaningless and despair is crippling the world today, I remember the hope that Jesus has given the church, and think of his command to ship it out to the World. It is our greatest export – something we have a limitless supply of and something which appears to be so lacking on the streets of our cities and towns.
And maybe this sense of having something useful to contribute to the world around us makes our churches places of hope in themselves. Otherwise it's just a series of songs and homilies.
At Vineyard we call ourselves a 'family with a purpose', our purpose being to restore hope to a broken world. And as you give, you get! Everyone wins!
Arthur Goode is chaplain of Plymouth Argyle and the minister of the Vineyard Church which meets at All Saints Academy Sunday mornings at 11am (www.plymouthvineyard.org.uk).