Author’s Note: In reading this commentary, please be reminded that this is a theo-political blog, the sub-heading of which is: Conservative Thought From a Biblical Worldview.
Since the presidential campaign of 2008, there has been no shortage of references to the phrase “hope and change“.
And though the pages of the calendar may have advanced “forward” four years (pun definitely intended), the message of “hope”, for one presidential candidate in particular, remains essentially unchanged in that it proposes that he is the person in whom the voters of America can and should place their confidence in helping them to ultimately bring to fruition their most sought-after and long-held aspirations and desires.
What is it, exactly? Have you ever stopped to think?
Well, in the New Testament, the Greek language defines ‘hope‘ in terms of both a noun and a verb.
The noun, ‘elpis‘, denotes “the ground or basis upon which the hope is based as well as the object upon which the hope is fixed”. In Romans 15:13, God is spoken of as “the God of hope” (elpis), meaning, He is the Author, not the Subject, of it. (Don’t miss that.) The Greek verb ‘elpizo’, means “to hope” and is frequently translated by the verb “to trust” (‘peitho’). It denotes “the hope that is both directed to and centered in a person”.
Biblically speaking, Romans 15:12 reads, “In Him (Jesus Christ) shall the Gentiles hope (elpizo).” In a worldly or temporal sense, these distinctions are very important for us to understand, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that, in the context of what ‘hope’ means (in terms of ‘elpis’ and ‘elpizo’), there is no individual of whom it can be said is the ‘author’ of hope or the ‘fulfillment’ of our hope.
As fallen human beings the best we can do, regardless how well-intended we are, is to view a particular person as the subject of our hope. This is clearly evident by observing the extent to which people across the various political spectrums are lending their support (or not, such as the case may be) to the two most prominent candidates in this year’s presidential race (though there are other less prominent ones).
The point I’m making here is that it’s one thing to hope that your candidate wins in November (elpis), whereas, it is another thing altogether to hope in your candidate winning (elpizo).
Case in point, it is primarily because people did not have a proper appreciation and application of these two contexts of “hope” which led many of them to commit suicide as a result of the stock market crash of October 1929. Their hope was that the market wouldn’t crash and their investments would do well (elpis), but when it did crash, it became evident that those who chose such a path of finality did so because their hope, their salvation, their deliverance, if you will, was in the market (elpizo).
…it is one thing to hope that your candidate wins in November, but it’s another thing altogether to hope in your candidate winning.
The same could be said of today’s investors, sports fanatics, and real-estate speculators, even a husband or wife who go beyond hoping “that” their marriage will be a happy one, to hoping “in” their marriage being happy. There is a difference.
I could go on in pointing out other examples, however, suffice it to say that the takeaway here is, regardless whether it is politics or investments or marriage, ideally, we are to have an eternal perspective of such things so that our hope and trust is not fixed on any human being or in some temporal outcome which he or she professes to be able to bring about, but on the one Person who is both the definition and fulfillment of hope, Jesus Christ.
Whatever your political persuasion, the truth is that the degree to which your life is to be made “better” (or not), is by the grace of God alone, not any act of Congress or presidential Executive Order or government entitlement program for which you may qualify.
So, as you go to the polls this November, I encourage you to remember and take to heart the words of Deuteronomy 7:11-18 (NASB),
“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God…otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud…but you shall remember the Lord your God for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…“
Though it may seem practical in the near-term, in the long run entrusting your existence to a human being – any human being – will get you only as far as squinting your eyes, crossing your fingers and “hoping for the best”. Whereas with Christ, your true and only hope (elpis), you always get the best you could ever hope (elpizo) for.
No politician, be it the President or anyone else, can offer you that.
Think about it.