“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” That’s a quote from a Stephen King character in “The Shawshank Redemption,” which is one of my favorite movies. King was raised Methodist, but hasn’t set foot in a church in decades. Yet many of his books (and movies) have faith-based themes, even overtly Christian ones. The line quoted above is one of those things. The Apostle Paul might just agree with King: hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Paul also might have a different view of hope, however.
To Paul, and most early Christians, hope wasn’t just a wish, or a long-held desire. Hope was a guarantee; an unrealized promise; something sure that hadn’t yet fully come to pass. Paul and the Galatians hoped for the promised redemption that they believed in. Their faith in Jesus was sure; their surety in the promise that Christ made them righteous was solid. God had done everything necessary to save mankind but most of mankind didn’t understand or believe it. But the Galatians did. And they believed. And they hoped on.
They hoped their entire lives for that salvation. They, like us, found its full reward only once this life ended and they joined the Lord beyond. Paul had introduced them to faith in Jesus. Now, their grasp on that faith had become tenuous, challenged by the influence of bad theology. Some in their fold were unsure of what Paul had taught them. Some had listened to those who wished to mix the incomplete striving of traditional Judaism and the completed truth of The Way. Paul reminded them that the promise of Jesus’ salvation was truth, and that they could put their believing faith in the hope-filled promise that Jesus had saved them once for all.
To them, hope was a good thing, maybe the best of things. Andy Dufresne would have agreed. Dufresne, King’s protagonist in the book (then movie) held on to the hope of living freely even though he had been convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. He held on to the hope that he would be saved from this unjust punishment; that, body and soul, he would be free. It’s really a Christian theme, if you think about it. Maybe Stephen King does. Some time, many years ago, maybe that message actually lodged in Mr. King’s mind and he ponders it today. Nearly all of his stories are complex accounts of the simple battle between good and evil. It’s a battle each of us wages every day. Knowing that, in and out of our prisons of sin, let’s cling to the hope of salvation days to come.
For further reading: Romans 8:23-24, Galatians 5:6
Lord, I cling to the hope of Your holy salvation.
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