Connections 06.14.2020: Hope for Tomorrow, Love for Today

Romans 5:1-11

The entire New Testament is about living in the in-between. It’s about more than that, but it’s definitely about that.

The New Testament is about living between the first and second comings of Jesus. It’s about living between who we were as beginning followers of Jesus and who we will be as mature, complete followers of Jesus. It’s about living in a world that lies between what it has been and what it will become.

I think a lot about what it means for Christians to live in this in-between time. I’ve really been thinking about it a lot during these days of one major crisis after another, each of them exacting a significant human cost. How do Christians think about and deal with such events?

Some Christians adopt a stance of personal piety during the crises. They trust in God. They have peace in the storm. It is well with their soul.

We shouldn’t minimize trust and peace. We should want to attain them, and if we have them, we should be grateful. I’ve had times when trust and peace were hard to come by. Many of us are having that experience now. It’s a blessing to have trust and peace in the midst of chaos.

But is it enough for Christians? Can we be satisfied that we’re doing all right? Can we be satisfied that we’re managing things well?

Some Christians rejoice in the crises. They think such upheavals signal that the end is near, and since they can’t wait for the end to come, they manage to see our current troubles as good things. They believe the world is going to get worse and worse until Jesus comes back, so they find misguided comfort and misplaced hope in terrible occurrences.

But surely Christians can’t let tragic events, especially those that cost lives, be a source of encouragement to us. Moreover, surely we can’t just watch such things happen without trying to do something about them.

Some Christians live creatively between who they are and who they will be, between what the world is and what it will be, and between what God’s will for us is and what it will be. In so doing, they take the kind of approach that Paul advocates for in our lesson text.

Because of what Christ has done for them, they are justified by faith, they have peace with God, and they live in grace. All of that is the case right now, and they live in light of it all. But they also know there is more and better to come, and they look forward to what God will do for them through Christ one of these days. That means they live in hope.

Even the worst events of life ultimately produce hope in these Christians, because the Holy Spirit causes them to experience the love God has for them, which leads them to love God. They know that God loves them so much that Christ died for them. They know that they will eventually experience God’s love in its eternal fullness. One of the reasons they know that is that they are already experiencing God’s love here and now.

This is wonderful news. We should celebrate it to the point of reveling in it. God loves us now and we love God now. God will love us forever and we will love God forever. God loves us and we love God. It’s is an indescribably wonderful reality that we live in, no matter what is going on in the world.

We should appreciate, celebrate, and enjoy God’s love. But should we just appreciate, celebrate, and enjoy God’s love? Are we meant to keep it to ourselves? Surely not. Surely we are meant to share God’s love with others. Surely God’s love in us causes us to love others.

In times such as these, living in hope and in love means doing all we can to let people know that God loves them too. We want them to live in the love of God so they can live in the same assurance we live in that everything is going to be all right—no, everything is going to be perfect and glorious and wonderful—someday.

Paradoxically, one of the best ways we can share with people the love of God that empowers them to be sure that everything is going to be good someday is to do all we can to build a more just world today. What can you do to help?


  • Paul uses the word “boast” twice in our lesson text. He says, “We also boast in our sufferings…” (v. 3). He later says, “We even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (v. 11). When we take the entire passage into account, do these two areas of boasting go together? If so, how?
  • How do you understand the relationship between our experience of hope and our experience of God’s love?
  • How should our expectation of being fully saved in the future (v. 10) affect the way we live as saved people here and now?
  • How does Christ’s death prove God’s love for us (v. 8)? How should this love inspire us to live?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.


For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email