Why are we designating this particular week a “Week of Hope?” Shouldn’t we be putting our faith into action and taking hope to the world every day?
Yes we should. Loving our neighbor is a 24/7 biblical mandate, to be sure. And it’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Pastor Keith taught in this week's Sunday message.
But just as with our Church Has Left the Building outreach last year, a ready-made outreach sometimes can be the nudge we need to get “out there” and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And certainly any time we help “the least of these,” we are blessing someone and serving Christ himself.
Week of Hope also is a great opportunity to get to know some of our local ministry partners and get involved on an ongoing basis – organizations such as International Friendship Ministries, Heal the World Thrift Store, Open Door Community House and Sound Choices Pregnancy Clinic.
We’re working with eight ministry partners in all this week, but that’s only a small segment of the organizations we link arms with throughout the year. Visit our Around the City page for a look at all of our area partners, and click the "Contact" link if one of them stirs your heart to help.
As for Week of Hope, we’ve been comparing it to a mission trip, with a few key differences to make participation easier: 1) It’s right here in Columbus; 2) It doesn’t require hundreds of dollars in expenses; and 3) You can do it in two-hour increments – shifts at 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. each day (Monday-Thursday).
You can find all the details, including information on each partner/work project, right here. Pick a shift – or two, or more, even – and get out there!
We are a people of faith. At least that’s what we claim. We all know faith lies at the heart of Christianity. And yet, if we are utterly honest, we would rather talk about faith – or better yet, listen to someone else talk about it – than live it.
Think about the two most succinct definitions of faith we have in the Bible:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).
"We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In short, a life of faith requires that we choose to embrace the unknown. The challenge is that every cell of our flesh clings to the known: that which is familiar, predictable, manageable.
Let’s be clear. Living by faith is not easy for anyone. Those who do have chosen to make a conscious and continuous decision to ignore the cries of the flesh and embrace the life of the Spirit – which, by the way, Jesus likened to the wind (unseen, unpredictable – are we getting the message yet?).
It is helpful that the writer of Hebrews doesn’t over-spiritualize or leave the matter of faith in the realm of the hypothetical. Rather, he turns to examples of real-life men and women who were called of God to leave the known and boldly enter the unknown (see Hebrews 11).
We are reminded of Noah’s willingness to become the laughingstock of the known world when he built a land-yacht with no cloud in sight.
We have Abraham, who was willing to leave everything – family, friends, home – to travel with the sole promise, “I’ll let you know when we get there.”
And then there is Rahab, who chose to put her life in the hands of two total strangers rather than the fortified city she called home.
Equally celebrated are the nameless legions of men and women who chose faithfulness to an unseen God over the safety and security of this world.
So what’s their secret? Perhaps, Erwin McManus has answered that question as succinctly and beautifully as anyone I know in his allegorical poem, The Perils of Ayden. This particular entry comes from young Ayden, who confesses his fear to his older and more experienced mentor, Maven, as he was about to begin his great quest:
“I’m afraid,” he confessed as Maven stood with him in the place where his quest would begin.
“Of what?” Maven asked in his calming voice.
“For this journey. Have I learned all I need to know,” Ayden queried.
“Ayden,” he replied, “you know all you need to learn.”
“What should I take with me?” Ayden continued.
“Leave all you have and take all you are.”
Ayden persisted, “And the path, is it safe to travel?”
Maven looked at him sternly for the first time he could remember and scolded him, “It is not safe to remain! It is not the place but the Presence that upholds you! This is your only certainty. Go! Walk where no man has walked, yet you find footprints.”
You see, faith does not demand that we live or act in total blindness. In fact, faith requires an object. It is the certainty of what we do know that gives us the courage to face what we do not know. For us Christians, that “object” is not a safe place, or an adequate supply, or an abundance of knowledge, but the person of Jesus Christ.
His Presence will uphold you! This is your only certainty.
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.