That's what he said to me.
And I get why he said it. I'm bright eyed, enthusiastic. I'm a dreamer and people don't call me bubbly for nothing, I had been over-flowing with excitement.
I had a friend that got saved out of one of those "hard places", a place that people rarely escape and I couldn't help but think, maybe this is just the beginning...
So in true form, I thought it out loud. "What if..."
"Don't get your hopes up."
My first reaction was the righteous indignation of the person who is, well, right. But the longer I stewed on why it bothered me so deeply, it occurred to me that I had looked my own offense in the eye. I didn't like what I saw.
World-wise. That's why they called it when I was younger. The truth was, by the time I was twelve, I was a cynic. I had a wall of protection around me as thick as Jericho.
Don't Hope. Don't get disappointed. Expect Nothing.
"At daybreak, LORD, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly." Psalm 5:3
Church, I think we might have problem.
A long time ago, individually and as a collective we decided that certain people, churches, religions, and groups were too tightly in the grip of something other than God. I didn't want to believe it. But for three weeks I've sat on that phrase, don't get your hopes up, and without hearing those exact same words I have heard it preached to me no less than three times.
We are taking weekly doses of cynicism to protect us from disappointment. I don't think we do it intentionally. We just declare a church dead, we stamp a religion a cult, we label a person diseased and addicted and then we look at the facts.
The problem with being cynical is that it breeds apathy, which leads to inaction. When we build a wall around our heart, the concrete leaks to our hands. We become statues. Unable to act. We fear false teaching more than we believe in the Father of our Faith. When we expect nothing, we do nothing.
Hope does not disappoint. Romans 5:5
I get it. Our cynicism feels like realism. But the reality is we have no grasp on the hearts of man. Church, I love you. I am one of you. Which is why I'm sounding the warning bell right now.
Without hope we will one day find ourselves disappointed that we didn't see the potential and act on it. The disappointment won't come from choosing hope and being let down, it will come from choosing cynicism and not seeing God's glory lifted up.
Because if Cynicism leads to Apathy and apathy leads to inaction, then the opposite must be true.
"No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths." Psalm 24:3-4
Faith leads to Hope an Hope leads to actionable Love.
Hope is the conduit through which our faith in God becomes love for people. When we refuse to get our hopes up, it is not long before we refuse to get our hands up, we desist lifting our voices up.
Let's stop being hope-less and insist on being the people that hope-more. The harder the place, the people, the chains, the more we hope.
Let's get our hopes up, shall we?
Let's lift them up to the God whose love was poured into us. To the God who left us a helper, a teacher, and hope giver through the Holy Spirit.
"Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5
Our step of faith is choosing to put our Hope in a God that does not disappoint. Our Hope in Him moves our hearts to do the work of a God that does not disappoint.
We need to start believing and expecting that God is big enough to shift traditions, paradigms and kingdoms!
So today, I'm going to continue to examine the places that I have chosen cynicism over hope. That relative that I called it quits on years ago, that religion that I had made the enemy, those people that I rolled my eyes at to protect my feelings.
Would you do the same? Would you be willing to go with me to those hard places of hopelessness and root them out? To hold them up to the light and surrender them to God of Hope?
Dear Church, Let's get our hopes up, shall we?