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Jul 29, 2015 | Archbishop Justin Welby

Archbishop Justin Welby: 'Jesus calls us to live in hope'

 

Christians are called to live in hope not fear, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in this talk at HTB Focus in Camber Sands on Monday.


"Our calling is to be a holy people available to God at any cost to us." Archbishop Justin at HTB Focus, Camber Sands, Mon 27 July 2015. (Picture: HTB Focus)


 

Too much of our time is spent on fears and apprehensions. Fear is the weapon which the devil uses against the church to turn us inwards, against one another, away from a world in need. It may be fear of Islam, or fear of another group in the church. It may be fear in our own lives, from debt, from sin, from hidden weaknesses. It may be fear for those we love the most, or even of those who should love us the most. It may come from a million other things.

 

Yet at the greatest crisis of his life – in fact of all history; a crisis making what we face look like a small blip – Jesus in John 15 does not speak of fear, or address fear, but of hope, holiness, love and service. The opposite of fear is hope (which in the New Testament means 'certain and confident expectation'), and this is a time of hope, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. We Christians are called to be a people of holy, witnessing hope. As Christians we are least what we could be when there is fear, and most what we should be when there is hope.

 

It is easy to look at the church and at the world and to despair. There is much temptation to do that. We must not kid ourselves, there are huge dangers, deep concerns in every direction. But our response must not be fear, but hope in Christ. Absolute realism, but hope in Christ. We know the destination of our lives if we belong to Christ, we will be with him forever; we shall have his eternal life in us. So far so good, but the problem with journeys is not the ultimate destination but the road to get there.

 

In Canterbury earlier this year I went out in the car to a shop. On the way back, 300 metres from our house, I saw a diversion sign. I followed it and it took us straight down the busiest pedestrianised street, at the height of shopping on the weekend. I was wearing my dog collar, and trying all I could not to look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. My passenger was clearly wondering if hiding in the boot was an answer. The diversion continued taking us into a neat circle back to the same street, just in case someone had not seen me the first time and one ticket from the police was not enough.

 

The reason, of course, was students having fun with diversion signs. I had a sense of humour failure, I confess. The issue was not the destination, I could see it almost the whole time. It was the route to get there.

 

The fact that Jesus is risen from the dead is now beyond doubt. But what is the route we follow to get to our eternal destination? The answer is very simple: we are called to live as the holy people of God. Holiness: availability, ready, reconciled, equipped, holding nothing back. The route we are to travel with the risen Jesus is one of holiness.

 

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