A Kingdom worth Hoping For

What is hope? Well the easy, straightforward, and unambiguous answer is not too difficult to find.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

And that is, in one sense incredibly helpful. It clarifies the use of hope in the bible, and makes a lot of sense out of what could otherwise be confusing (because “hope” is often used in an opportunistic, uncertain sense).
I was reading Matthew 13 a couple of days ago, and was struck by a very practical and in my view prescriptive example of such certainty in hope.

treasure #2

 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These two parables are effectively the same story; a guy finds something super valuable, and sells his gear in order to obtain it. There is;

  1. A discovery of something more valuable than everything they currently have.
  2. A Sacrifice; BEFORE obtaining the treasure/pearl, they have to lose something (everything?).
  3. An overall gain, leaving him in a better position than before.
But here is the really interesting aspect of their hope. The man who finds the treasure sells and buys “in his joy.” The hope is not realised or actualised until some time after the discovery, and after the sacrifice. The confidence and the assurance that follows the discovery but precedes the fulfilment is still something that brings Joy. In that sense, the hope itself is one aspect, element or façade of hope’s realisation.
What does that mean? Off the cuff it means that the hope we have is one that brings joy now. This is not new;

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

The Kingdom is the treasure, as is made clear in the passage. The sacrifice is the relinquishing of the sinful lives (and love of the world, with all its benefits) that we cling to, and to take up our cross. The passage above suggests that is it by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have this joy and peace that are tied up with hope.

Once discovering the reality of Jesus, and how the kingdom is, there must be things we give up. We have to repent of the old, and put on the the new. Being sanctified and living by the Spirit (fruit of the Spirit and so on), are the result of hope; they are the joyful self-fulfilment of a hope which is yet to be fully realised in the return of Christ.

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