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Hope perseveres in the face of hardship, recognizes that God in his grace wants to preserve this world and protect it from its self-destructive powers.
This year is looking to be interesting to say the least. A new American administration, ongoing Brexit negotiations as well as upcoming national elections in some key European countries. How should we approach the year
One good place to start is to reflect on the events of last year. What has been clear was the clear role feelings played in Brexit referendum, as well as the American elections. There seemed to be a divide between the elite or intellectuals with the common folk. In voting for the future, feelings are not divorced from reason, but rather influence what reason might look like. Emotions play a decisive role in how we evaluate social changes, relate to people of different opinions and make use of our intellectual power.
We are often convinced of the rationality and sensibility of our arguments yet ignore our own emotional prejudices. The reality however is often the opposite. We often begin with some kind of intuitive emotional judgment and subsequently construct our arguments based on these emotions.
Recognizing the role of emotions, it is important for one’s faith and spirituality to influence one’s emotional disposition. While negatively perceived by the Romans and many critical philosophers after the enlightenment, hope remains core in our Christian faith. For Christians, God is the source of all our hope and joy (Rom. 15:13). Paul teaches us that hope is a partner of faith and love (1 Cor.13:13). The question that we can ask ourselves then is, what does it mean for hope to be an emotion, and even a virtue?
One way that hope can influence us is in our reasoning and critical engagement with society. In hoping, one remembers the God who created the world, who in love came to save the world, and will one day come again. Recognizing the relationship of hope to faith and love, to hope is to be driven by love and rooted in faith. It can be understood as the art of potentialities in the situation that one finds oneself in. This is in contrast to the obsession of instant success or the focus only on the now. Instead, hoping is mindful of the broader time horizon that God employs, and uses all of one’s intellectual energy to find solutions that bring forth the common good in society. It perseveres in the face of hardship, recognizes that God in his grace wants to preserve this world and protect it from its self-destructive powers.
Hope is needed for individual Christians as they live their own lives, as well as contribute to the common good in society. As Christians we must ask ourselves whether we are sufficiently engaging with hope or whether our core message is one of apocalyptic warnings, fear and dangers.
Of course, our understanding of all these concepts needs a profound biblical engagement. We need to be beware of false freedom and deceitful flourishing. In this new year, may we be challenged to be hopeful in our lives, as well as our interaction in society. May we reflect the living hope to the people around us.
Patrick Nullens (Ph.D.) is Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, as well as Rector of the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven (Belgium), and director of the Institute of Leadership and Social Ethics.
This blog is part of a blog series on Leadership & Social Ethics, published by the Institute of Leadership Social and Ethics. For more information, please visit their website.