“If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men the most pitiable.”
The First Epistle to the Corinthians 15:19
Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
FAITH IN CHRIST is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1 Night and day we beg God that we have a share in His inheritance in the person of Jesus Christ. If we have no hope in that inheritance which was designated to be ours and our hopes instead are limited to this world’s matters such as a beautiful wife, healthy children, wealth, easy life, visits to loved ones and to beautiful countries, owning a comfortable home, have gained it all or still hope to, then what a disappointment to our hopes and what a dreadful destiny. But when we evaluate the good share in this age, we will have lost all we possessed and wish to possess. Possessions in this age are dust upon dust ending with decay and extinction, leaving us disappointed having lost the true hope that is not of these times, and dear friend the perception that the inheritance of the whole earth is under the tutelage of worms, thieves and bad luck, followed by a life of grievances and regret at the end.
While if we trust in Christ Jesus our Lord and hold on to His hope for us in a share of His glory, a life in His presence, and joyful conciliation with His Father, then we will have pleased God and earned our inheritance with Christ in His kingdom.
If our hope in Christ is limited to our needs in this world consisting of wealth, glory, and an easy life and are distracted by the world’s gifts and physical desires while thinking we believe in Christ and that He is our hope for what we receive and desire of wealth and pleasures, and are captivated by the world, then ours is the most miserable share to face, which is to be deprived of Christ’s inheritance preserved for those who were bare, hungry, persecuted and have tasted the bitterness of poverty and need, there only hope being in the Lord and what He saved for them in the coming age.
True hope is confined to what Christ prepared for those who love Him in the glory of the coming age. Faith in Christ is confined only to heavenly matters that are unseen. No one is to err and believe that faith in Christ is merely to acknowledge and follow Him in general, boasting His Name, without self denial and becoming integrated in the rows of believers and saints who have given up the world accepting persecution in Jesus’ name. Faith in Christ is equivalent to a repudiation of the world with everything in it. Because the world and everything in it has nothing of Christ, as Christ said that He was not of this world, and that all those who believed in Christ2 were not of this world.
The Apostle Paul boasts that he lost everything in this world to gain Christ, nay was also prepared to lose everything for the benefit of the knowledge of Christ.3 Paul the Apostle thus sets the law that to gain Christ is equivalent to lose everything in the world and to be prepared to lose all.
If we think that the hope Christ established for us is to gain something in this world then we have lost Christ Himself and all He prepared for us in the coming age. There exists no middle way. Either a loss and being with Christ or gain in the world and the loss of all heavenly supplies.
It is also impossible to combine what is the world’s with what is Christ’s. For Christ died for the world and we died with Him renouncing the world. So how can we live for this world? Would it not be a denial of the cross and of He who was crucified on it? For this reason the Bible says: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”4 For light cannot be mixed with darkness. Light and darkness are either with Christ or against Christ and cannot be combined. We are called to a living hope in Christ’s share which ends with the inheritance of eternal life that is kept for us in the heavens5. The living hope is alive in Christ and through Christ not marred by hope in the world.
Beware my friend lest the world would tempt you, or the old snake would lure you with its guile, stealing from you your heavenly share for the sake of trivialities that will perish and disappear.
18 June, 2005
1 Heb 11:1.
2 John 17:14.
3 Phil 3:7, 8.
4 2 Cor 6:17.
5 1 Pet 1:3, 4.
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