USA (MNN) — Yesterday, we talked about the United States Presidential Election and our nation’s crisis of hope in its wake. Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries challenged Christians to be known, not “by our political affiliation or by our anger or by our anxiety,” but by our hope in Jesus Christ.
According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, hope is used in the Bible meaning, “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”
When we meditate on hope and trust in God’s sovereignty, it frees us to have thoughtful conversations laced with truth and love. It frees us to turn attention off ourselves and see our hurting neighbor. And it frees us to choose actions and words that share the hope we have in Christ.
Today, we want to look at some tangible, real-life examples of how we can be ambassadors of Christ’s hope to others.
Because deciding to embrace hope and express it to others is one thing. Actually choosing actions and words that are based in hope and reject despair with the people in our circles can be difficult.
Hope in… Our Hearts
Before we can effectively communicate hope and joy to others, we need to take a look inward, says Hutchcraft. And, first and foremost, hope comes with immersing yourself in God’s Word and being open to the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
“To bring it back to the least common denominator — How is my heart? How am I? I think if we encumber our Jesus-identity with baggage, be it some kind of political identity or we become known for things we are against rather than the Jesus we’re for, we actually poison the well.”
Hutchcraft says when we bring it back to our identity in Christ first, it refocuses our priorities on God’s mission.
“Our job is always to lift people’s eyes out of the moment and towards our Jesus.”
Hope on… Social Media
The next area of our lives we can display hope is often the area where we have the least self-censorship: social media.
Our posts feel safe. They feel bold. But often we forget about the friend or family member reading our words on the other side of the screen.
“Facebook is a battlefield right now,” Hutchcraft says. “It’s a political battlefield and it’s a very opinionated battlefield. The fact is, like on social media, in our everyday demeanor with people, we ought to be the person who lives like we know Who is really in charge. Whoever is in the White House, God is on the throne, and there is no doubt about that.”
However, saying “God is on the throne” is not meant to shut down posting or tweeting about hard topics, like wisdom in voting, or how policies affect our nation. But remembering our true hope in Christ can positively influence the tone of our posts, so we don’t comment from a place of desperation… which could lead us to say harsh things.
“Do we have concerns? Yes. Are we concerned about some of the dark currents in our culture and some of the dark clouds on the horizon?… Yes, I’m concerned about all those things. I live in that world. I’m not floating in another sphere somewhere,” states Hutchcraft.
“But by the same token, I know that my personal life and my family is anchored in a God who has been there for people through every empire, every ruler, every dictator, every depression, every recession, every war, every battle.”
Hope in… Conversations
So how can we, as Christians, respond when speaking with fellow believers who seem overwhelmed by fear and dread of the future?
Hutchcraft encourages us to a look at Psalm 11:3-4b: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.”
If you are searching for a handhold of hope to share in conversations, that verse is an encouraging reminder. “A lot of people feel like things that have never moved are moving now. But, here we go again, whoever is in the White House, God is on the throne.”
Hope in… Witnessing
Something that a large number of believers find difficult to do is explain their faith in God to someone who is not a Christian. But it shouldn’t be that way. And our culture desperately needs loving, hopeful witnesses for Christ.
“We already know that our culture is moving from sort of pro-Christian to post-Christian to now increasingly anti-Christian. The public platforms for the Gospel may be increasingly restricted. But 78 percent of the people who come to Christ do it through a relative or a friend. It’s because of a believer they know. And yet some have estimated that 90 percent of believers never tell about the hope they have. So those people are going to be lost because of our silence.”
Here’s one tangible way Hutchcraft says you can approachably share your hope and faith. And it doesn’t involve going door-to-door.
It simply involves listening to people, and then caring in the best way someone who knows God can: by praying for their needs.
Hutchcraft shares, “Over the years, when people have talked about the bad news from the doctor or the struggle in their family or their worry over even what’s going on in the world, I have — as prompted by the Lord and when there’s a private moment — said, ‘I’m going to be praying for you. I want you to know that, because that’s what I do when I’ve got concerns like this, or someone I love does. I take it to the most powerful person there is. By the way, would you mind if I started right now? Could I talk to God right now about what you talked to me about?’ I’ve never had anybody turn me down.
“When you do that, you are literally embodying the hope in your heart. And many times when I’ve opened my eyes, I’ve found tears in theirs because they’ve never heard their name in a prayer, and they’ve certainly never heard anybody talk to God out of their heart. You just had your relationship with God in front of them. You just had your hope in Jesus right there in front of them.”
If you’d like materials to learn more about boldly sharing your hope in Christ, check out Ron Hutchcraft Ministries on their website!
“Our ministry is committed, and my book, ‘A Life That Matters’ is all about this. Our training series, our 13-step video small group curriculum is about how an everyday believer can become a rescuer of the lost people around them. This is a passion of this ministry, to help God’s people be motivated and equipped to be the rescuer on their ‘stretch of beach’.”
Hutchcraft reflects, “I believe the individual believer is going to be, and is already, the primary messenger of the Gospel of Christ. Not a program. Not a website. Not an evangelist. Not a pastor. It’s going to be the everyday believer in the world where lost people are day-after-day. Guess what? We’re right back to the beginning of missions.”