Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.
On June 4th, 2020 the General board of Superintendents issued a letter that ended in a call for all Nazarenes (that are able to) to a day of prayer and fasting on Today June 7th. Understanding that many did not hear about this until now, let me remind you that fasting does not necessarily mean the absence of food. We realize that many of us cannot physically do that, so fasting can also be giving up something else for the day to focus on God and Prayer.
In this letter from the Board, it tells us how the world is seeking a human cure for a spiritual illness. It says, “People are in the streets calling for justice and a human cure to this epidemic of sin;” a spiritual epidemic. The Board of Superintendents wish to remind us that our Christian hope is not found in human cures, such as political movements or laws, but rather in the Person of Jesus Christ and how He treated all people. The three points addressed in this letter are
1. Christian hope is based in a Person.
2. Christian hope looks forward to a promised future.
3. That Christian hope changes us.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority." Titus 2:11-15 (NIV)
First, our Christian hope is not found in human or worldly ways. It is not found in philosophies or politics, nor in ways of thinking or circumstances, nor is it found in the newest utopian idealisms.[i] It is rather found in the person of Jesus Christ, as the “Grace of God” for the “Salvation of all people.”[ii] That hole inside of us all that the world tries to fill with agendas and ideas can only be fully filled by the accepting of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We will never find peace or justice until we find Him, nothing else in this world will ever make sense to us until we see everything through the lens of Christ.
Second, our Christian hope is forward looking to a time when there will be no more pain and no more tiers, not backward looking to old ways and ways of injustice (Romans 6-8). To a time when He will make all things right again.[iii] Looking forward to a time when our brothers and sisters for eternity will be all that accept Him as Lord and Savior. Heaven is not segregated by culture or race, there is no ‘right’ or ‘left’ heaven, there is only a heaven of unity and love—a unity in Christ.
Third, our Christian hope changes us. “It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.” Because we set our focus forward on a Kingdom that has come and is still yet to come, we find ourselves letting go of the things of the world. They have no value to us anymore, our allegiance is focused on Christ. We start to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” as we were originally intended to be and do.
One final thought directly from this letter:
“Because that is a picture of what our future hope looks like—as citizens of the kingdom of heaven and people who believe that God always keeps His promises—we start working toward that vision right now, here on earth.
We begin to long for, and pray for, and work for a time where there is justice and peace; where hungry people can eat and where diseased people can be made well; where holy love enables us to live together joyfully even in our great diversity. We begin to live toward the time where there is no hatred, prejudice, unjust systems, or racism. We live today the way God wants His world to be tomorrow. Hope demands we do more than speak a good word—it is a call to act on behalf of God’s preferred and coming future.
Because of our deep sorrow for the way things are, and our profound hope in God’s faithfulness to bring about a more just and loving world, the Board of General Superintendents calls the global Nazarene family to a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Sunday, June 7, 2020 (also known as Trinity Sunday). The prophet Joel declares, 'Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly.' (Joel 2:15-16)"
The Board asks the following questions for us to ponder while we pray for our world:
1. With so much bad news, what does it mean to be a people of hope?
2. More specifically, what is Christian hope and how does it change our perspective?”