Above everything else, the early church was hopeful. In the midst of chaos and despaire, the early church was hopeful. We cannot live without hope. Walter Bruggemann, in his book Hope Within History explores the meaning of apocalyptic hope in history. Using Jeremiah as background, Bruggemann argues that the true history makers are not those whom we expect–politicians, doctors, and lawyers. Real history makers, he argues, are those who can invest in a dream. In spite of pretty bleak conditions–Jeremiah’s nation was about to be conquered and taken in captivity–Jeremiah was able to still have great hope. He had apocalyptic (i.e., based in history) hope. He understood who really had power–those who had hope in spite of the circumstances they faced. God told Jeremiah to buy a piece of land (Jeremiah 32:6; 29:4-9). He did. Even though Jeremiah was never to enjoy this land, never to really own it, he invested in it anyway. Apocalyptic hope causes us to invest in dreams we may never see consummated. People with apocalyptic hope, assert the sovereign and omnipotent will of God in all circumstances no matter how bad things may be. They “have a bold conviction about alternative possibilities which go under the name of hope . . . they see clearly that things are deeply wrong, but they still have hope.” Modern, existential hope of men like Viktor E. Frankl pales in the light of the apocalyptic hope of a committed Christian. “Was Du erleht, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben,” (What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.), Frankl writes (Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Pocket Books, 1963, p. 131).
Today, in 2013 America, we must have hope. If we don’t, fellow Christians, no one will!