Joy filled christian living occurs where Hope and Aloha meet. Aloha is a word with many layers of meaning, among them is love. As our hope in Christ grows our Aloha for others increases also. Hope in Christ results in Aloha. You do not need to be a christian to have Aloha but as we place our hope in Chirst we receive Aloha. When we first come to faith, when our initial believing is coupled to a commitment of ourselves to Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit pours awareness of God’s love for us into our hearts (Rom 5:5) which overflows in Aloha for others (Col 1:4). Life is amazing in that moment. We’re in the sweet spot of christian living where hope and Aloha meet.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.(Colossians 1:3-5a ESV)
In a moment of conversion we do not say things like “my world is now reordered and my hope, which was once focused elsewhere, is now in Christ.” , even if it is precisely what happened. Hope is something we place. Wherever we commit ourselves we place hope. We place hope in our friends and in our employment, but first we place hope in a primary commitment. When we place hope in Christ we come into right relationship to God and God places love in our hearts. When we do this all our other hopes become expressions of our primary hope in Christ.
Hope and Ministry
If I start a business I hope it is successful and provides me with a living. That’s an appropriate hope. When we see our employment hope as within our primary hope in Christ we experience our employment as our ministry. If my business hope becomes my primary hope, if my life is defined by my commitment to the company I started and grew, my hope is inappropriate and does not result in love. Pride can replace love. We can think of this in terms of minor and primary hope. Our minor hopes are good, even holy, so long as they live within a primary hope in Christ. Over time as we experience life as ministry we also experience our life as a constant prayer or as life in the Spirit.
Want more love and aloha in your life? Place your hope in Christ. Placing our hope in Christ is not a one time thing. The first time we place our hope in Christ is memorable and often euphoric. A new believer, or a repentant believer who returns to faith or turns from brokenness to a full life in Christ, is often blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit who places the Love of God in their hearts. This is an overwhelming sense of God’s love for you. This love fills our hearts and overflows in compassion and care for those around us.
The conversion experience can be so transformative that people remark on it. My own conversion to Christianity blew my mind and changed me dramatically though not in ways that were quite so obvious. I remember one friend in particular who was very often filled with anger and hostility towards others. When he turned to Christ he was transformed. Love and patience replaced anger and hostility. It was so dramatic everyone noticed even if they did not understand the renewed faith that brought it about.
The more hope we place in Christ the greater our love, or Aloha, becomes. The church has a word that describes those people who’s faith is so great that love flows from them in compelling ways. We call them Saint and hold them up as examples to be emulated. Many stories of the Saints include tales of persecution and endurance. Their hope was unshakable. Enduring the persecution made their hope stronger. This is not a mystery. It is similar to a love held for a long time. There is a richness and depth to a love between a couple after 50 years of marriage that can only come to be through a long marriage. A hope that endures tribulation and trial grows deeper and wider. It takes on gravitas.
Keeping our hope in Christ requires endurance and in fact endurance builds up our hope. The Apostle Paul puts it this way,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
For most of us our hope in Christ ebbs and flows as our faith ebbs and flows. There is a simple reason for this. Hope is an aspect of faith. Hope is trust cast into the future. We trust God in the present and hope in Christ for the future. Hope grows as we endure in our faith. We endure by staying faithful to God in the face of distractions and challenges. There are many ways to turn from Jesus. Some are obviously journeys away from God. Things like pornography, greed, and envy are quick steps away from God. Some are less obvious. When our commitment to family or career take precedence over our commitment to God our primary hope in Christ shifts elsewhere and we become people of less faith.
Hope and Aloha and More Joy
With more love comes more joy. When our hope is in Christ, love fills our heart and sustains us through difficulties. Joy results. We rejoice in our lives, finding pleasure in God’s creation and in all that God has done in our lives. Hope and Aloha are marked by joy. Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is an expression of our hope in christ that withstands the buffeting of life’s troubles.
I hope this post encourages you to place your hope in Christ, that you may experience God’s love in your heart, know peace and joy, and that you are graced with strength to be steadfast in your faith as life throws challenges to your faith at you, that your hope may grow great and your life become marked by joy that accompanies a faith that raises you above the varied circumstances of this life.