Question #1 – What is our only hope in life and death?
Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
The authors of the New City Catechism began where the Hidelberg Catechism starts, asking us the most fundamental question (rivaling the Westminster Shorter Catechism #1) that a person can ask of themselves. Every person, regardless of what they believe in, has some form of hope in life. For some, hope is found in romantic love, in finding and keeping the perfect mate; for others, hope is found in financial security; still, for others, hope is found in a life full of relationships. Hope is found everywhere, but the question remains, is it hope that will endure for both life and death?
Many people hope in their fitness, checkbooks, relationships, or status in their circle of influence, but will that really endure through the ebbs and flows that come in between life and death? Can these things sustain the both the heights of joy and pits of despair that happen in the normal course of a human life? Even more than that, will these things provide hope for death? As Americans, we have pushed death so far outside the main conversation that many of us do not know how to handle death when it comes knocking on our door.
Many of us never stop to ponder the significance of death and whether or not anything happens to us after death. We are content to live in the present, enjoying and delighting in the pleasures of modern life. Yet, as Christians, we implore you to consider that consideration of death is one of the most important things you could do. The majority of the objects that we place our hope in will not sustain us through death.
the Bible and the catechism instructs us that our hope is not found in our fitness, success, pedigree, or relationships; in fact, it is not found in us at Allee. Notice how it begins: that we are not our own. In an era and culture where we are constantly told to make something of ourselves, demonstrate our greatness, and show forth our success, the catechism breathes life in a culture of discouragement and disappointment. I’m not my own. I do not have to validate myself. I do not have to prove myself. Someone has done that for me.
The hope that Christianity offers is that I am not my own but I belong to someone else, and not someone that is my equal, someone that is far superior. I belong, both in body and soul, in life and death, to God himself. The Creator of the universe not only knows about me, he knows me intimately and has bonded himself to me. Therefore, whatever happens in life, I can be confidently hopeful that I am safe in the hands of the God who sustains and rules all things.
What can compete with that kind of hope? If my hope is in my financial success, that can wiped out in the blink of an eye. If my hope is in my spouse, my life can changed by one quick phone call, informing me that they were killed in a car accident. If my hope is in my children, they will soon disappoint and in some cases, betray me. Everything that you can hope in outside of God is built on shifting sand. God is inviting you to build your life upon the most solid of all foundations: the person and work of Jesus himself.
- Our words mean little unless action follows. What do you functionally put your hope in? Where do you spend your time, money, energy, resources?
- What one burden can you bring to your only hope in life and death today?
- What does it mean to hope in something?
- Have you ever hoped to get something and it didn’t come true?
- What do you think it means that God is our hope?