For the final three weeks of this semester, we’ll be starting a discussion on Christian virtues. During these weeks, we’ll be asking questions like: What does it mean to be a virtuous person? How does being virtuous relate to following Christ? and How does virtue help me actually live in a modern world like today. This week, we’ll be looking at the second and third theological virtues: faith and hope.
What is a life goal that you have for the future? Why do you want that? (e.g. buy a house, go skydiving, learn a new language, etc.)
Read HEBREWS 11:1.
- This is a very dense theological sentence. In your own words, how would you define faith and hope as described in this verse?
- How are faith and hope related to each other?
Read HEBREWS 11:2-31
- How are the actions of these people a representation of faith?
- What challenges did these people face that made having faith in God a challenge?
- This weeks sermons talked about the temptation of despair. Do you think this is a common feeling for people? How do you think most people deal with the feeling of despair?
- What circumstances in your life or the world tempt you to despair? What would Christian faith and hope look like in the face of that despair?
Read HEBREWS 11:2-31
- The passage ends with saying none of the people “received what had been promised.” How does this connect faith to the concept of hope?
- This passage ends by saying that “God had planned something better for us,” and that this would perfect the faith of the people discussed earlier. What is this “better thing” and how can it help us live lives of faith and hope?
Diving Deeper: FAITH AND HOPE AS VIRTUES
Writing about the experience of hope among enslaved black Americans, James Cone wrote:
“In their encounter with Jesus Christ, black slaves received a “vision from on high” wherein they were given a new knowledge of their personhood, which enabled them to fight for the creation of a world defined by black affirmations. Their hope sprang from the actual presence of Jesus, breaking into their broken existence, and bestowing upon them a foretaste of God’s promised freedom. They could fight against slavery and not give up in despair, because they believed that their earthly struggle was a preparation for the time when they would “cross over Jordan” and “walk in Jerusalem just like John.” They were willing to “bear heavy burdens,” “climb high mountains,” and “stand hard trials,” because they were “trying to get home.” Home was the “not yet,” the other world that was not like this one. Jesus was the divine coming One who would take them to the “bright mansions above.”
- Cone talks about hope taking root through the presence of Jesus breaking into the lives of enslaved peoples, have you ever felt this in-breaking presence of Jesus? How did it affect you?
- Cone’s description of hope was not passive, but an active on that resisted oppression. How are hope and faith a source of energy for action?
- Virtues grow within us and gradually become part of our character. How do you imagine your life would be different if faith and hope were key aspects of your character?