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Bo Stern Brady: Weighty Hope, 2 Corinthians 4:7-8,16-18

January 18, 2022

Audio Recording

A Year To Hope
A Year To Hope
Bo Stern Brady: Weighty Hope, 2 Corinthians 4:7-8,16-18
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Sermon Transcript:

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00:06 I'm so glad you're here today. We're just the I'm Bo Brady I'm on the speaking team. And, we are, as Josh mentioned, looking at hope this year and I didn't, can I just mom, you for a sec, I just have a little, you know, you never know, like, did you ever have a moment with your kids? Probably not. When you're telling them something important and at some point maybe 14 seconds in you just see their eyes start to glaze over just right. It's like the second right before the eye roll comes because they know, I know mom, I know I, and I get it. I was that exact kid with my mom. I knew everything way before she did. I don't know how I put up with her. but that's the thing about we we've picked a word for this year that we feel is divinely inspired for us.

00:51 And the word is hope. And I think that, you know, if, if, if your brain had an ingredients label, like 99% of it would be ideas, we all are just filled with ideas. Ideas are what shape our lives. And, and most of the ideas we have, we don't even know we have, they formed through experience and time and layers and layers of, of things that we've seen and, and believe. And it's formed an ideology about certain things. And so you right now sitting in your chair have already an ideology about hope. You already have an idea ideology about the faithfulness of God and why we should have hope and why we should trust him or why we should depend on ourselves or whatever that is. And so this year we're not looking at the philosophy of hope or the psychology of hope or the cultural concepts around hope, even though all those things will be impacted by what we say, we're looking at the theology of hope and that's God's ideology about hope.

01:49 And so we're going to have to be willing to do this a piece at a time. We're going to have to be willing to every single time we hear the word hope to ask ourselves the question. Am I living in that? Am I living in all that God has for me in terms of living a hope filled life, and then not only what, what is it, but what is it good for? If, if hope is a check given to me by God and I take it to the bank, what do I get in return for this? And so we're going to look at that this week as well. And, and last week, pastor Steve looked at second Corinthians one, I think, and this week we're also in second Corinthians. Paul has a lot to say about hope and the two passages we're going to look at, even though he never uses the word.

02:34 but the thing is, I'm going to give you two passages. We're going to look at, I'm going to tell you four things hope will do for you. And then I'm going to give you one word bullet. You can shoot into despair all the time, all the time, all the time. And I'm going to do this in 30 minutes or your money back. I failed in the last service. I was a little over. So, but still, so Paul is interesting in this passage where he kicks off this idea about hope and, and Steve touched on it also last week. What I love about the letters of Paul is he never, ever invalidates or makes light of our sorrow. He never does. He never says get over it. He never says stop complaining. You're such a cry baby. He never says that none of this should hurt because the world is hard.

03:24 But do you just because you have Jesus, you shouldn't feel any of these things. He never does that. Paul makes all kinds of room for the authentic expression of our emotions. He makes all kinds of room and says, this is life. It's hard, man. And, and when he writes to the church at Corinth, it's an interesting context because Corinth is a busy bus lane, trade town. It's a successful city. It's filled with power, sex and money. It's, it's just, it's a, it's a very cosmopolitan type of place. It's pretty wicked. And the church is just forming there. And believers are living a very different kind of life than the average guy in Corinth. They are experiencing for the first time, new persecution, they're experiencing poverty. They don't have lives that look very enviable. You know how we kind of say that a lot of times, that idea of like live a life.

04:22 That's so cool that people will look at you and say, what are you doing? I want to do it just like you. That that's really not Bible. It's just really not. And so here, Paul launches this passage and it's this beautiful iconic passage. I love it. He says, but we have this treasure in jars of clay. Yeah. He just called you a clay pot. Not, that's not cool. That's not that attractive to look at. we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. And this is cool. We've got this treasure and the treasure here at first glance looks like the treasure is the all surpassing power of God. Actually, what Paul is saying is the treasurer is that we are just little clay pots, but we get to hold a little bit of the power of God and we don't have to create it.

05:14 We just are carriers, not creators of the power of God. And this is such good news. And then as Paul is often known to do, he follows it up with some pretty bad news. We have this power that is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. So I find this really fascinating, this idea that Paul comes in again and says, these are the facts guys. We're in the hope is not denial of the facts. The facts are things don't look great for us. Things are really hard. We're, we're really pressed. I am a little bit claustrophobic. I have an issue with claustrophobia. And so this idea of the walls coming in on me makes me feel really uncomfortable. And that's exactly what this means, except this is the Greek word.

06:11 Solipsist, I've taught on it from this stage before, because it's one of my favorite principles in the new Testament. The word the lips is means a productive pressing it's this pressing like, like when you press olives into olive oil or grapes into wine, it's oppressing that produces something more valuable. On the other side of the pain, we are pressed into something beautiful, not into something that's crushed. We are pressed but not crushed. And then he says, we're persecuted, but not abandoned. The word persecuted here in the Greek means to be chased. We're being chased down by trouble. You ever feel that way. Maybe you feel that way right now. I just have trouble. On every side. It feels like I can't get away from the trouble, trouble, trouble. And this doesn't mean that we don't have anything chasing us. It when it says we're chased, but we're not abandoned.

07:04 We are chased, but we're not alone. We're chased, but we're in the presence of God. God is with us, wherever it is, we need to go. Where can I flee from your presence? Nowhere. And so when our enemy chases us down, he runs into God. And so we are, we are persecuted, but not abandoned. And then my favorite of these truly terrible things, Paul is saying to them is we are struck down, but not destroyed this word struck down. He's taken right out and only in this passage, but this is a place where Paul uses this as a sports analogy in his day, he probably would have been talking about wrestling in my day. I'm talking about football because I was a girl with only sisters. And so my dad used to line us up in front of the TV and make us watch NFL football, because he didn't want us to ask boys stupid questions.

07:58 And I endorsed that parenting strategy I actually do. And so I know about football and I've loved it for a long time. And so the super bowl comes on February 13th. My money's on green bay. I'm just going to go ahead and no money, no actual money is changing hands at this moment. but I think so. So I was thinking this morning, how funny would it be if Aaron Rogers takes the field and he takes the first snap and he goes back to throw it and he has, will happen at some point, probably during the game comes right into contact with the 300 pound freight train of a defensive lineman who takes him out and he lands in the turf and what will he do next? I mean, probably call the police because he's been assaulted. Isn't that what you would do if you're on your way to work and somebody knocks you down to the ground, like you can't do that.

08:51 I'm just going to work. No, he's not going to do that. Maybe he will sit there and he will say, I don't know what my coach was thinking. I don't know if he loves me at all. If he has let this guy knocked me over here, Nope. He understands that he isn't being persecuted because he's in the wrong game. He's being persecuted because he's in the right one. He understands that the stakes are high millions of dollars in endorsements fame that really ugly super bowl ring. He knows all of this stuff, his legacy, all of this is on the line. And so he keeps doing what getting up. He keeps getting up because he wants to make it through four downs because he wants to make it to the end zone. And ultimately, because he wants to make it to the trophy land, trophy place and say, I'm going to Disneyland.

09:45 That's what he wants. And so this is my word bullet for you. I'm gonna tell you right upfront, I get knocked down, but I get up again somewhere as believers, especially I'm sorry, but especially American believers. We have gotten this idea that we shouldn't be knocked down. That being knocked down is a sign that we're doing something wrong or we're outside the favor of God or God isn't powerful enough or good enough or kind enough. And I'm telling you what? This is just the game. We are shooting for a prize and there is going to be contest station on the field. There just is, you know, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics are always fascinating and they've had them since the very first one. And so they, you know, parade all the athletes in and then they award them all metals. No, they parade all the athletes in. And what do they say? Let the games begin because we're all going for a prize. We're fighting for something. A million people can get knocked down and leave the field. Pam Bagley, God sees you every single day. Get up again every single day.

10:58 He is proud of you. And he is proud of you Mac. every day we get knocked down. It's not because God doesn't love us. It's not because of some sort of evil plot in the middle east. It's not because of the public school system. It's not because of COVID. It's not because of the Republicans or the Democrats. It's because we are at war. And there's an enemy who wants to keep us from crossing the finish line with our faith and our hope and our love for people intact. So every day we get back up again, I don't have an easier thing than that. I don't have a cuter motto. I don't have anything there. Rhymes. I have a dumb Chama Womba song. I get knocked down and I get up again. We just keep getting up because Aaron Rogers has been getting knocked down since he was 10 years old, playing football from 10 years old.

11:56 And it is formed the trajectory of his life. And what knocked him down at 10 can knock them down at 30. And so something is being formed in us and all this time on the field and in the turf, looking up at the sky, going what happened again? Does getting knocked down her. Yes, but there is something that God is doing in it. We are not destroyed. We're not done just because we're knocked down. We have to get back up again. So this is part of the game. This is part of the win. Paul knows it. And this is what he's talking about as he launches into this discussion about hope. So then he says, therefore, this is verse 16. Now in second Corinthians four, therefore we do not lose heart. This is just another way to say, therefore, we do not lose hope. This is another way to say, therefore, we get back up again because though outwardly, we are wasting away yet inwardly.

12:56 We are being renewed day by day for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary. But what is unseen is eternal. This is a beautiful text. It's Paul fills it with contrast. He talks about light versus heavy and eternal versus temporary. And, and now versus then, and seen versus invisible. He talks about all these things to say, there is a, your living in a world of contrasts choose really wisely. So Gentile philosophers of the day believed that the body was much heavier than the soul. And so it even would, it was holding the soul down. And when your body finally died, it released your soul to kind of float up to heaven where it came from.

13:50 And Paul is saying here, no, right now, right now in this war that you fight in this world in which you live and you struggle for peace and your struggle for hope right now, God is working in your soul, this heavy weighty glory. And it is something that you will carry with you into eternity. Something is going to be being done in you. That matters. We do not lose heart. We don't give up because outwardly we're wasting away. This is Paul's saying outwardly, it doesn't look good for us. We're we're not the ones to be envied. Our lives don't look easy. We acknowledged that life here is an easy or sturdy. It's hard. It's hard to be human bodies and hearts break relationships implode. I like this honest acknowledgement of the reality that this isn't easy and these emotions are valid and you can be honest about the hard stuff and still not lose heart.

14:51 That's a choice. That's a decision. How do we make it by changing our focus to what to inwardly we're being renewed day by day, not in spite of all these afflictions, but because of them, God has done something in these afflictions that creates something in us that makes us somebody. We could've been another way. Something is happening in us. And when we shift our perspective from what's, external to internal, it's like, finding our focus in a viewfinder. What am I going to focus on? What am I going to look at the other day? I had lunch with a friend and we talked a lot at lunch about inflation and supply chain issues and pandemic and politics. And so many things that I found myself in the car, just feeling gross, like, Ugh, this is rough man. This world is gray and icky. And then I was like, wait, all of this external stuff is happening.

15:49 That has nothing to do, nothing bad to do with what God wants to do inside of me, where his spirit lives, what spirit, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead that it's in. That's in this very same chapter. If the same spirit there raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, then how can all of this external stuff ruin you? How can anything external bring you into despair, where you can't ever get up. If you know, for sure that you are a clay pot that contains the power of Jesus in your world. And so shifting our focus to what's inside of us, pulling it in and looking and knowing this stuff going on in me is not dependent on the world, agreeing with it circumstances don't I don't need their permission to, to grow internally. I am going to grow without that. I'm going to grow knowing God is using these things.

16:49 To make me more into his character. As we set our hope on the work of God in our lives, we are incrementally, but steadily becoming more and more like him. I think the more we set our affection on him and our thoughts on him, the more we begin to live truly flourishing lives for our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory. This is almost comical. I think, you know, we're hard pressed and persecuted and, and all the things. And if you read the afflictions of Paul with the shipwreck and the beatings, and they thought he was dead and he stoned him and all the things imprisonment so many times, we see this idea of him saying these are just light and momentary guys, and, and they aren't, they're ha they're heavy. These are big things. And yet he sees that there is something at work that outweighs them. It's hard to focus, I think on an unseen glory when we live in America, because we really do have

17:49 So much here. We really do live in the land of, of opulence and extravagant abundance. And so it's hard because it's almost like this is that we, we can get busy creating the thing as close to heaven as possible. And in this society in Korea and they were, they were very, very successful. And I think the problem or the caution for any successful society is our hope is often placed in the wrong thing. Our hope is often often placed. Even, even when we have hope in God, we feel like my hope in God is because if I do the right thing, I'll succeed with my money. If I do the right thing, I'll be blessed if I do the right thing. And that is not what, what Paul's talking about. He's like no one, when every other thing points to this life is really, really terrible. We fix our eyes on what we cannot see, which is heaven, nearly every beautiful him. That's old has a verse that focuses us on heaven at the end because they knew the world they were living in. Wasn't awesome. They weren't trying to preserve anything there, but we're really working hard to preserve our rights here in our life. And so we have to be willing, even in the midst of prosperity to look at what is unseen and invisible and what is coming.

19:07 I believe that it was interesting to me when I was in, we went to universal studios when my husband had just found out that he was dying and it was kind of a dream trip with all our kids. And I am not a theme park girl. I don't know if that shows, but I'm not a big theme park girl. And I didn't really want to go that much, but we did it for the kids. And when we got there, I discovered that universal was decorated for Christmas. And I turned into like an eight year old. It was really, really cool. It was just beautiful and magical. And, and because I was there with Steve who was by all outward, criteria, criteria wasting away, I really had heaven in the front of my mind and not in the back and stories. I just started thinking, what does heaven look like decorated for Christmas?

19:58 I wonder. I mean, it must be ridiculous. And then I thought, what, how does heaven celebrate Easter? How does heaven celebrate communion? I mean, everything there is better than here. And it started awakened in me this imagination about what must heaven be like, what must be there? And it started to make it more alive and more real and more true and beautiful than it had been before. And all of a sudden heaven was, I'm sorry, but heaven. Wasn't a punishment. It's like the it's like the end zone. It's the Superbowl ring. This is where we're going. This is it. And I think when we can begin to have that, we can start to focus. At least some of our affection on what's to come. We have a life to live here and we want it to go. I pray that it goes as great for you, but there's something coming and it better be better, right?

20:55 Better be better. It's going to be better. So four things hope does one true hope exposes what is broken or lost. And this is one of the, the parts of hope that sometimes keeps us away from hope. In order to have hope for something, we have to be willing to let sorrow carry us back to what it should have been in the first place. We have to be willing to say, ah, something's not right in my life. If I want to have hope for it to be right. Something's not right in our world. If I want to have hope for it to be right. If you talk to me about human trafficking, it will, it will make me say, oh, I can't really hear about that because I don't want to carry into sorrow. But sorrow is necessary to have true hope to see where are my thoughts supposed to be planted?

21:38 Where am I decisions supposed to be made? How does this look in my life? And then true hope shapes us. It shapes us into the character of Jesus Christ. The most hopeful man who ever lived the most hopeful man who was persecuted at every turn and still not the victim of anything. Jesus was not the victim of the cross. Jesus went willingly to the cross. Jesus defeated the cross by facing it and saying, this is, this is my mission. And so as we plant our heart and true hope, we begin to be shaped into the character of Jesus Christ. True hope moves us toward the unseen, but essential moves us toward what we can see. It moves us to start to look beyond our circumstances beyond what's. What's weighing us down right now. It begins to make us look at who we really are and who we're becoming and how our ideas are shaping the way we think and live and believe.

22:37 And the way we, our happiness. This has been a year for me of God. Remodelling my thinking, changing my thinking and, and saying, wait, do you believe it? Do you believe it? That, that, that the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you to believe it, then how does that look in your life? What are you doing about that? And so true hope moves us toward the unseen and essential of what is false hope. False hope is just something that's in the wrong thing. Hope that's invested in the wrong thing. And that's just not hope. That's just like a wish or a dream. It's not bad, but it's not. Doesn't have substance true hope invested in what's true and lasting and weighty and eternal always moves us toward what's unseen and true hope comforts us in the equally true. If afflictions we experience now, true hope is true, but also sorrow is true and hope moves in to comfort us in our affliction.

23:38 Hope gives us comfort that there's a better day coming. I read the story of a woman who was addicted and, was doing a lot of self-harm sabotage every bit of forward motion in her life. And she found herself one day on the bathroom floor, hung over, strong out, holding a positive pregnancy test. And even though her hope in that moment was only the size of a raisin in her womb. That hope that she was going to be now a mother and not just an addict and not just a failure, but someone's mom drove all of her behavior going forward. It helped her get the help she needed. It helped her through rehab. It helped her become the mom. She wanted to be, it helps her now because there was hope that she could be something more hope was the comfort inside the change that she needed to make. And so having a clear picture of the hope of Jesus over your life will comfort you in affliction will comfort you as you move through a world that is not fair and is not kind true. Hope moves in to comfort and build and shape us and move us toward eternity.

25:02 I don't know what you're facing today. I don't know where you sit today. Maybe you've all, but given up hope, maybe you've even wondered. if, if living is good enough, I, I want to say that when it's really hard to get back up again and again, I don't want to use that term glibly. Sometimes when we get knocked down, we'd help to get up again. Somebody has to come along and give us a handsome news. We have to ask for help to get up again. But it's always the right next move. Maybe you're feeling you're feeling filled with hope, but you're just not sure that the thing that you hope for is really going to be it. I just want to encourage you this morning. God is here. And he is here for the places where you worry in his, here for the places where you're wounded and he is here for whatever it is you're hoping is going to come next, whatever it is, you're hoping won't come next. But he is the hope that does not disappoint. So Jesus, we thank you.

26:10 We thank you that you've called us to this moment, this little section of the game, we're on the field for such a time as this we're in our city for such a time as this we're in this faith community for such a time as this and God I ask that this year would be, a time of, of week by week remodeling. Our view of hope, our mindset around hope, our ideology, the stuff that holds us back, the stuff that propels us forward. Would you begin to build in us and create that, in, in all of these clay pots gathered here that we would be containers of the powerful hope of Jesus Christ, that we would become a community of hope and that we would move out into our city because we believe in a day where we will be called the city of hope. Thank you, God that you were for us. You're with us. You are cheering us on. And God we ask that you give us strength for everyone who is feeling despair this morning. And I ask that you would speak life and hope you would speak eternity into their hearts. We love and worship you in your name. We pray. Amen.