Christ, the Hope of Glory, Is In Us
“Christ, the Hope of Glory, Is In Us”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 17, 2016
Readings: Genesis 18:1-14, Psalm 15
Today we are challenged and encouraged to realize how blessed we are as God’s people because we have been given everything pertaining to life and godliness. Psalm 15 speaks of a principle that we must be careful to live out:
“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.”
Abiding in the presence of God involves action on our part – walking (with integrity), working (acts of righteousness) and speaking (the truth in our heart, the truth of the Word and not reality). Knowing is not enough; what is required is the totality of our being. This challenges us to stop being complacent in order that we may bring forth what has been given to us. We are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ in our lives. We are equipped to rise above our circumstances and handle whatever comes our way in victory. This requires walking, working and speaking the truth of God. We don’t speak the reality of our circumstances. When we see the problem, we speak forth the truth that God is faithful to take care of us and provide for our needs.
Our reading from Genesis 18 shows us that what is impossible with man is possible with God. God promised Abraham that he will be the father of many nations and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. The promise took time to be fulfilled, and in the meantime, Abraham and Sarah were growing old. So Sarah gave Abraham her maid who conceived and bore him a son, instead of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled. Abraham was living with his family alone in a place that was outside of the city so that when three men came, he knew that they were visitors. Upon seeing them, he immediately set out to welcome them. “….when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, ‘My lord, if I now have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by’….Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes’. Abraham also ran to the herd and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant….to prepare it. He took the curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them….” The details are given, how Sarah had to bake the bread at a time when there was no electricity, so it must have taken her some time to do it. Then a calf had to be killed, dressed and roasted. Imagine the effort and the time it took to prepare this meal for the guests. Compare this to how we do it today when visitors come to our homes. Sometimes we can’t wait for them to leave. We serve them food that we buy and are ready to eat, requiring minimal effort. This is what we do today; we don’t go out of our way to show our hospitality and we exert no effort in caring for others. There is no individuality, no personal touch in what we do, no giving of self, and hardly any compassion in dealing with others. We must be reminded that we have to plant in order to receive. This is a principle. Abraham was a giver. Three men came to visit him. They could be a representation of the Trinity – God Himself coming to visit him. How much respect do we give God? Are we willing to do as Abraham did in serving God?
The visitors then asked Abraham where Sarah was. Then the Lord said to Abraham, “I will surely return to you at this time next year, and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son”. This is the fulfillment of God’s promise. The wait may have been very long, but when God says something, He will do it. Because Abraham didn’t wait for the fulfillment of the promise but, instead took matters into his own hands, the world is suffering today. This is a lesson for us all – when we don’t obey God, the repercussions will go beyond us and affect other people. We have to be careful to obey and do what God tells us.
When Sarah who was listening at the tent door and heard what the Lord said to Abraham, she laughed to herself because she and Abraham were advanced in age and she was past childbearing. She said, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” One thing we have lost sight of is the fact that God created our body and it has godly potentials that God implanted within us. Our body may grow old, but God created it and gave it the potential to live for eternity. This was His plan at creation. The human body is designed to renew itself every seven years, as some studies say. This means that every seven years, everything within us becomes new. We should see this potential that God implanted in us. “Is anything too difficult for God?” This event in the lives of Abraham and Sarah took place long before Christ came into the world. God spoke this – that Sarah would bear a son even past her childbearing years – according to the way He intended for man to be at creation.
In Colossians 1, St. Paul reminds us that although we were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, Christ has reconciled us in His fleshly body through death, making us holy and blameless and beyond reproach. The evil deeds come from the destruction caused by sin, from the fall of Adam. But Christ paid the price through His death, to make us holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Can we see beyond our failures and weaknesses and realize this truth? We are a new creation. Christ reconciled us in His fleshly body. It was His flesh that was sacrificed to bring about our redemption. The flesh was the avenue through which the Holy Spirit was to be revealed. It was the human flesh that needed redemption, and it was the flesh of Christ that redeemed us.
St. Paul said, “….in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. St. Paul is saying that they didn’t understand what God had done for them and he was taking it upon himself to declare it to them and make them understand. In my own life, I have to set aside reality to remind myself of the truth. Our redemption is now, in this flesh, and because of the work of Christ, we have become holy, blameless and beyond reproach. He completed the work, and even if we don’t believe it, it’s the truth. He has revealed to us the mystery which had been hidden from past ages and generations – Christ in us, the hope of glory. How can we fail in the face of this truth that Christ is in us? The world will change if it believes that Christ is in us. He is always with us, even when things seem dark. We never walk alone, as the song goes. “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet, silver song of a lark. Walk on, walk on with hope in your hearts. And you’ll never walk alone.”
This is our hope – that Christ is in us and is always with us. Romans 8:10 says,“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”. The Spirit of God is meant to be manifested in our flesh in order to give it life. He created us in His image and likeness and we should be manifesting this image of God, instead of allowing the world to influence us and dictate our choices.
The Gospel in Luke 10 about Martha and Mary has been misinterpreted by many. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home and she was distracted with all her preparations for the Lord’s meal. She had to do everything from scratch while Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word. So Martha said to the Lord, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me”. Wouldn’t you get upset yourself if you were in her place? But the Lord didn’t condemn Martha when He replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken from her”. Jesus needed to eat and Martha worked to make sure He would have a meal. Both Martha and Mary did the right things. Some in the church have to do the work, like deacons who serve and do the physical work.
The flesh is quickened from the inside by the Holy Spirit. It shouldn’t be the world that quickens us inside. Some of the Jews who suffered unspeakable horrors in the concentration camps had joy despite their circumstances. This joy came from inside of them. Martha was a giver, doing things for people. She had a caring heart, which is why she brought it upon herself to do the cooking and serving. When Lazarus died, it was Martha who went out to meet Jesus.
In our lives today, in this season of Ordinary Time, we must comprehend that our source of life and hope is Christ who is in us, the hope of glory. We need to feel that hope and glory. John 17:22-23 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me….” Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me….” Why do we look outside for strength, help and life? Christ is in us. His Spirit gives us the will to live and do the work that God has given us. We’re not completely in that place yet, but we get closer to it when we work daily to be what God created us to be. There’s always hope in Christ. Don’t ever lose this hope because this is what gives life. Don’t let this hope be wasted. Use it to help others. It’s not enough just to believe; we must bring all this truth to action. We should set a goal to rise up and be what God has made us to be; to live out what He has given us and be His witnesses. As the song goes, “O happy day when Christ took my sin away!” Let us be filled with the joy of the Lord!