We often live below the level of our privileges. We go spiritually hungry, yet the fridge is full. Thirsty, while standing by a clean lake.
I’m from a region that’s been in the news a lot lately. In 1968, the people of Czechoslovakia woke to Soviet tanks rushing through the streets. Many tried to stop them with their bare hands. Unlike Ukraine today, we didn’t defend our country by force, so we became a Russian “satellite” state ruled by the Kremlin for decades.
Brute power. Lies and Isolation. Loss of freedoms. Endless restrictions.
But a massive change came about in our countries. We were no longer in a totalitarian regime. We had a liberal democracy, free market, freedom of choice, and freedom of speech. But our society kept living below our new privileges—in fear and insecurity, with a victim mentality and distrust of authority. Free, but still living as oppressed.
That same disease often plagues the Christian church. We often live below our privileges. We have a great Savior but look at us—anxious, panicked, risk-averse, numb, and quick to quit. Such great salvation—yet we’re often people of little faith and lukewarm hearts.
But how should we be living?
Rejoicing in Union with Christ
We’ve been justified through Christ; therefore, we should rejoice—or in other words—boast as Paul describes in Romans 5:2, not in ourselves but in what God has done. He alone is our sure hope. We often live below our privileges. We have a great Savior but look at us—anxious, panicked, risk-averse, numb, and quick to quit. Click To Tweet
In this new union with our Lord Jesus Christ, we receive these blessings of peace with God, access to his grace, and eternal reconciliation. This union is so central that Paul concludes each of the last four chapters of Romans with this reminder.
- “ . . . grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (5:21).
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23).
- “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7:25).
- “. . . nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:39).
So, what’s it like to be a Christian? It’s to be one with Christ.
Through Christ, We Rejoice in God
Now, look at the first 11 verses of Romans 5. Through Christ, we have peace (v. 1) with God, and through Christ, we receive reconciliation (v. 11). Our relationship is restored, and we’re his children in the covenant of peace.
It is all his doing. He did all the peacemaking. God has claimed us. In baptism, he named us. At the table, he feeds us. His righteousness clothes us. His Spirit transforms us. We are not our own; body and soul, we belong to God. This is the first and primary joy of a justified person.
But is this part of the gospel as we present it? That God himself is the highest good for people? Do we boast in his gifts or the giver? We are to lead our people to delight and boast in our God. Yes, God is the means of our salvation, but he’s also the goal of our salvation. Not his gifts, pardon, love, care, or protection. No—we rejoice first in God. Being a Christian means delighting in God himself.
Through Christ, We Rejoice in Hope
- Hope in the Glory of God
Through Jesus, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. This glory was ours at creation but lost through our rebellion. It’s the glory we long for but lack. This glory is being restored in our salvation and will be fully and finally ours in consummation.
Creation is groaning for the revealing of believers as glorified sons of God. Then finally, all will see again—in us and on us—what God is like. But until then, there are communities of confident hope in the wastelands of our cynical continents.
- Hope Is Produced Through Suffering
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom. 5:3–4). We’re not told to love the pain but to rejoice because the pain of suffering isn’t worthless—it’s productive. It produces the patience to keep going under pressure. Don’t we all need that? We need the long game to plant churches that will live to see other churches planted. Suffering doesn’t kill hope. It's the fertilizer, not the pesticide. Click To Tweet
Endurance also produces character. We don’t know what we’re capable of until we’ve gone through hardships. Singles think they’re selfless until they enter marriage. Couples believe they’re patient until they have babies. Pastors think they’re committed until the first accusation comes. Suffering doesn’t kill hope. It’s the fertilizer, not the pesticide.
- Hope Doesn’t Shame Us
Christian hope is not wishful thinking. On the last day—the day of judgment—you better want something that will not disappoint. Everything else will. We need something certain for the day of the Lord—the great and awesome day of justice.
Justification gives us hope, which is sure. As you stand in the presence of the Holy on that day, you will be clothed in Christ. We can be absolutely sure about the verdict on the day of judgment because the Holy Spirit has flooded our hearts with God’s love.
Paul concludes that God’s love, through Christ’s death on the cross, is the rock-solid guarantee for our hope. So be encouraged. Rejoice in God. Rejoice in hope. Even sufferings benefit us eternally. There is not much help for the journey from a church lacking hope. Click To Tweet
There is not much help for the journey from a church lacking hope. Living the Christian life and leading without this sure hope is like driving a car and not seeing through your front window. Of course, we slow down, start panicking, and are anxious and afraid.
Jesus is just who we needed. Jesus is who we need now. And Jesus is who we will need forever.