1 Peter 3:15
English Standard Version (ESV)
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”
Hope-giving spirituality-Albert Nolan
Fr Albert Nolan, author of ‘Jesus before Christianity’, spoke today in Potchefstroom on hope-giving spirituality. He defines our mission today as, more than ever, to give account of the hope that is within us (1 Pet 3:15). He recounts how we are experiencing a terrifying shift from an age of hope to an age of hopelessness. Many things we’ve put our hope in have failed us, whether is has been scientific and technological progress, or religious movements, like the Reformation or Vatican Council II, theology of liberation or even Madiba magic.
There is only one unshakable foundation and that is God and God alone.
What have people been hoping for though? – Heaven, Second coming, the coming of the Kingdom? It sustained many, yet it doesn’t sustain many Christians today anymore. Hence we need to revisit our eschatology.
A better life for all? world peace, elimination of suffering? Transcend our selfishness.
Perhaps, changing the unhealthy discourses. Some people have just one hope: the survival of the earth community. The earth and human species are under threat. The hope is: at least we will survive. Sometimes it is narrow and selfish: me, my family, church and nation. Gods will be done on earth
A hope-giving spirituality, then, would be a spirituality that deepens our sense of the reality of God. Yet for many people God is dead: despite their profession of belief, in practice God plays no role in their lives at all. We cannot blame them for it: the images of God (punishing judge, supreme male patriarch, the all-powerful manipulator, etc) is hopelessly misleading. Hence for hope we must to unlearn these images of God. We should not worship images (idols) of God.
We need a re-enchantment with God. The removal of mystery leads to the death of God. Our way to the mystery of God is not knowledge. Hence, my relationship to God is wonder, being enthralled, being marveled. The new cosmology, away from Newton’s mechanistic machine cosmology towards Einstein, the mystery. Then the next step is to worship and adore God, we can only bow down and worship, we are in the presence of some so much bigger then what we are. Once we’ve done that, then trust and confidence in God comes forth, we believe what Jesus taught us… God becomes like a personal lover… an experience of love. This is prayer, not knowledge or theology. It is a relationship.
As we put our trust in God we start to see God at work everywhere, at the most unexpected places and in the most unlikely ways. God is at work everywhere. It’s very mysterious, yet we know God is in control. Jesus invites us to participate in God’s work. This is our mission. We don’t know what the future holds but we know Gods work will continue into the future. Here lies our hope: Gods work will continue. And this is what we give account to: of the God we trust. Even if we don’t understand and see his work yet, we believe in his work.