Multiplying Ministries: Looking For HOPE In All The Right Places.

Mar 21st, 2011 | Category: Columns, Multiplying Ministries
By Rich Bimler

“HOPE is knowing that, even when there is no hope, there is hope in Jesus Christ.”

I like this definition of hope. It is energizing, revealing, affirming, true, and of course, Hopeful.

I contend that one of the challenges in the church, school, and society of 2011 is that there are not enough hope peddlers around. It is tough, to say the least, to be Hope-filled Easter people in a Good Friday world. Churches and communities and countries and even families often have the wrong “enemies.” We “shoot the wounded.” We too often say “No” to people when all they need is a re-assuring “Yes” in the Lord. Too often we mis-read and misquote Luke 10:2: “…the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Instead, our lives seem to indicate that it reads, “…the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are arguing.”

Perhaps we are being led to look for HOPE in all the wrong places—in the daily news instead of in the Good News; through the latest “reality” TV show, which, in reality, is not really reality; through the philosophy of a “prosperity” gospel instead of the Gospel focusing on the Cross and Resurrection; through a belief system that espouses “Let go and Let God” instead of a faith life that affirms that God in Christ already has a firm grip on us, and on and on and on.

Where do you find Hope? Or more precisely, in Whom do you find Hope? And who finds Hope in you? One Hopeful sign in all of this is that we as God’s people, the Holy Huddle of Hope people, are gifted through Christ Jesus to be signs and hands and voices and hugs of hope in the world, as we begin each day in our Baptism. We are called out as God’s Hope-filled people to enable others to find Hope in all the right places.

A hope-filled friend of mine, Bob Sitze, has discovered that Hope:

…is rooted in the many manifestations of spirituality throughout history.is based emotionally and rationally on faith;
…is best discovered, felt, known, practiced, strengthened, habituated, and internalized within human relationships;
…does not manifest itself only in niceness or positive feelings;
…works best as a disciplined habit that can counteract addictions to fear, anger, and despair.

Well said, Hope-filled Bob! (Check out Bob’s latest book, “It’s NOT Too Late: A Field Guide to Hope”, Alban Institute, 2010.)

How can we be Hope leaders in this Hope-less world? Consider these as you consider other possibilities in your own life:

  1. Use Hope-filled words intentionally. Do an audit of your spoken and written communications.
  2. Ask loved ones around you to critique your words and your actions. Are they looking in the “right places” for Hope from you?
  3. Pick one arena of your life—your home, congregation, school, classroom, staff lounge— to intentionally “say and do” Hope to others. How does it feel? What reactions do you receive in return?
  4. Look in the mirror or ask a friend to check out your facial expressions and body language. Humans copy what they see in others.
  5. Evaluate what and who makes you angry. Analyze your feelings, ask help from others, reinvent ways to respond to others, in Hope.
  6. Spend more time with Hope-filled people. Our Hope levels need to be refilled regularly.
  7. Search the Scriptures…In them there is real Hope. Do a Concordance study of all the Hope passages—it’s an amazing experience.
  8. Tell others of the Hope that is within you as in I Peter3:15.
  9. Keep well in body, mind, and spirit by looking for Hope in all the right places—in Word and Sacrament; in the Body of Believers, the Church; in Baptism.
  10. And know that there still is Hope, even when you do not act like it or look like it or even feel like it…there is Hope, in Jesus Christ. Our Faith and Hope in Christ does not depend on how we look, act, or feel (and that’s a good thing). It all depends on what Christ has already done for us on the Cross and in the Resurrection.

An exciting ministry organization in Minneapolis, Vibrant Faith Ministries, shares some of the following thoughts in terms of what we Hope-filled people of God are being called to do in today’s world:

…Get over it: the 1950’s (and 60’s and 70’s) are over. We are living in a new land.
…It is difficult doing ministry during these times. But it always has been difficult.
…It is the perfect time for Christians to innovate, adapt, experiment in a ministry of Hope.

All innovation will take place through the power of the Holy Spirit. Most significantly, Jesus is the Lord of Hope in all centuries and in all places.

My Hope-filled prayer is that we people of Hope will continue to rub ministry shoulders with each other to encourage, build up, affirm, embrace, smile, laugh, and forgive as we move out into this often Hope-less world to bring health and Hope to all people starting right now with the people in front of us.

As someone once wrote, “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:12)

Now that is what I call “Looking for Hope in all the right places.”

Author Information

Dr. Richard Bimler is past president of Wheat Ridge Ministries and Ambassador of Health, Hope and Aging for Lutheran Life Communities. He may be contacted at rich@wheatridge.org.

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