Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. Titus 1:1-2 (NIV).
Here’s a little more of why God put it on Paul’s heart to write to Titus; part of the purpose for this letter: the hope of eternal life.
I think of “The Color Purple.” Great book; great movie. In the movie, Oprah Winfrey’s character, Sofia, is strong and determined while Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg, is more withdrawn but steady. Sofia is bull-headed in everything she does. Celie is consistently abused, both physically and emotionally, and has resigned herself to that fate until Sofia calls her out on it. Celie’s response: this life doesn’t last forever but heaven will. Sofia’s response to that? That’s great but what about now?
Wouldn’t that response apply to most of our world. After all, it’s reasonable, isn’t it? What about now? What about me? Don’t I matter?
Perhaps both Celie and Sofia were right; perhaps it’s a ‘both/and’ situation. The hope of eternity is a promise, not a wishing well kind of hope. It’s a certainty, a foundation. God, who never lies, promised it. It’s like the law of gravity: something universal on which we can rely. It matters now and later at the same time.
God chose mankind to display His grace and His love. He could have chosen honeybees but He didn’t. We are the elect, and those who follow Jesus know this. Why? Because God, who doesn’t lie, gave Himself in His Son to die for us when we didn’t deserve it. Because He won forever in heaven for us when we couldn’t. That means we get to enjoy the peace of that hope right now. It can change hearts to live with a better outlook…if we let it. It’s the Sofia moment: what about now? Yes, Oprah: what about now. The peace of God is for right now, for dealing in love and justice with our fellow man, including those who abuse us. Including those who are bull-headed. Including ourselves.
And the peace of God is for our eternity in heaven as well. It’s for later, for after the elect are given an eternal reward of living in His presence. Abused people are forgiven by Christ; abusers, too. And bull-headed people, too. Jesus did EVERYTHING necessary and possible to open God’s presence to us. All we have to do is accept it. The reward for it is heaven, which, as Celie might say, we’ll see in a little while.
For further reading: Numbers 23:19, Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 2:2, Hebrews 6:18, James 1:1, Titus 1:3
King Jesus, I believe Your promise. The hope of heaven is mine now and forever. Teach me today to share that in how I live this gift of my life.