I like to say these questions are a bit like Mary Poppins’ magical purse. Out of a small carpetbag come hat racks, mirrors, potted plants, a floor lamp, and a tape measure that reveals Michael is extremely stubborn and suspicious, and Jane is rather inclined to giggle and doesn’t put things away.
In other words, not only does this small question have a lot packed into it, the truth it contains will act like a tape measure that reveals your character. It’s my prayer that going through these questions will help us grow in both our hearts and our minds.
This question frames all theology with a very simple question: what is your hope? If I had written the catechism, I would have (unwisely) begun it, “What is the truth you base your life on?” But this question probes deeper into who we are; more than truth we are motivated by our heart’s longings and desires. We may know a number of things to be true, but our actions are rarely based on truth alone; instead we long for love, or leisure, or pleasure, and our actions are based on where we believe those longings will find fulfillment. In fact, many times we attempt to use truth to defend what our hearts long for--not the other way around.
But the Bible teaches that our greatest hope is actually in God himself—to know him, love him, and obey him.
This is because God, who is both our creator and redeemer, loves us more than we could ever imagine.
Paul says in Romans, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
This is a source of incredible hope, because we know how great God’s love for us is. I love that the first question starts with hope, because it recognizes that many of us live in fear and guilt as all the things we vainly hope in either elude us or disappoint us. But there is hope because we can belong to God in Christ Jesus. He is our powerful creator and our loving redeemer. Because of that, we can have hope in both life and death.
That’s why we must seek him with our whole hearts, to seek our Savior Jesus, and to learn the obedience of faith.
Can I ask you, where is your hope? Can you honestly say it's in God? If not, spend some time right now examining where your hope is. You may need to repent. But I promise you, if you trust in Jesus Christ, you will not be disappointed. No one who trusts in him will ever be put to shame.