An Example of Hope
Why do we need to have an example of hope? Are we not capable of succeeding through whatever challenge is requiring us to have hope in the first place? The answer, sadly, is no, we are incapable of successfully coming through trials in our lives unscathed. It is true that most people survive whatever it is they are going through. Each of us, though, comes out of it either nicked up, scarred, hurt, embittered, depressed, angry, aloof, distant, calloused, insecure, embarrassed, and worst of all, we can become somebody else’s emotional prisoner, or your own. That’s not what anyone would call successfully persevering through trials. Paul, a disciple of Jesus, shares his real life, stating he is the worst of all people. A liar, an accomplice to murder, a self-righteous and pious religious individual - and that’s just the short list. Even though many Christians like to believe his comment is connected only to his past, he is, in fact, speaking in the first person present tense. He is, right at that very moment, the worst of all people, one very offensive sinner.
And yet … he states that God is using him as an example of hope. Think about it - the worst of all people, the worst of all sinners as an example of hope for eternal life for those who have no hope. So what did Paul discover about himself to come to this realization? To become this example of hope, you must first be forgiven and second, you need to be intimately aware of how much you have been forgiven of.
Most Christians miss this application. To be the example Paul is talking about, you have to have your life out there for all to see. Not your Facebook life, not your Instagram life, not your church life … your real life.
You have to be crushed over your lies, gossip, stealing, unfaithfulness, bitterness, anger, selfishness, slanderous and malicious talk, and the list goes on. You need to be heartbroken by the effect of your destructive behavior on others, and then experience the depth of God’s grace on you and you alone. It is here that you begin to realize that you are the worst of all people, the worst of all sinners, and are humbled by the immeasurable volume of Grace that God freely pours out on you - and then it is in His grace that you become the example of eternal hope for those who have no hope.
-- by Ed Apffel, Chairman - Board of Directors, TerraMica