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As Reformed Christians, we share a bedrock principle with the Lutherans for our following of Jesus: We are saved by grace through faith alone.
Theology is a reflection on the faith we hold: It is faith seeking to understand itself.
But sometimes I think we underplay the role and need of hope. Eschatology, the promise of the last things, comes at the end of our creeds and theology texts. From another angle, it could easily come first.
We follow Jesus because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the seminal event of our faith and of our hope. And so, perhaps we could equally say: We are saved by God alone, by grace, through the hope we hold in him. Paul calls God “the God of hope,” writing to the Christians in Rome, “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” (15:13). Reformed theologian Jurgen Moltmann, the author of Theology of Hope, echoes Paul, writing in his book The Spirit of Life, “The Spirit makes Christians rich in experience and rich in hope . . . .”
When we are depressed, despairing, seeing no hope, Jesus, who was raised to new life, says:
I have a white stone.
It has your name on it.
It has your true name, who you really are. Just for you.
It is who I have always imagined you to be, and who you are becoming.
When you forget yourself, I do not forget you.
When you lose yourself, I have not lost you.
I hold onto you, in my hand.
I know the way, the way to your fulfillment of who you truly are.
Your name is precious.
I grab your hand, in that space of no hope.
And I also go before you, making the way straight for you to become who you really are. (Revelation 2:17)