What is our hope?
I live in the midst of a community of (mostly-young) believers who are passionate in their insistence on seeing their world transformed by the gospel. I am inspired by their passion. At the same time, if we insist that God has to answer all our questions, prayers and cries for justice in this age, we will go through life frustrated, bitter and resentful.
Yes, there are answers, fulfilments and victories in this age, and our hearts need them, but they are always partial, provisional, limited and point forward beyond themselves. Wilberforce succeeded in seeing the slave trade ended in England in his day, and that was a great good, but the battle for righteousness and against evil continues, and will continue until the end of the age.
Does that mean we stop contending for answers? Do we stop healing the sick, serving the poor, exposing injustice, contending for righteousness? Not at all. We must by all means continue to do these things. But we do them with our eyes fixed not on what is seen, but on what is as yet unseen. We fix our hope, not on specific outcomes that we want to see, but on the character and consistency of the One who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and who promises that He will return to rule. The ultimate answer to evil is that Messiah Jesus is Lord. Now his Lordship is visible only to those who see with the eyes of faith, but one day it will be manifested openly, visibly, for all to see.
The ultimate hope of the apostolic church was in the return of the Lord, the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Let that be our hope too.