As Christians, we are called to live and minister in a fallen world while not becoming a part of it. That anyone succeeds at this is a miracle. The world around us is so “real,” our needs so strong, and the promise for which we labor so ill-defined, that to walk the narrow path that leads to salvation is impossible. Thankfully we are reminded that what is impossible with men is possible with God. To succeed in this journey, He gives us three imperatives: Remember. Watch. Hope.
Make no mistake, each of these is a command by itself, but they do not stand alone. The life well lived in Christ requires all three, because each of them speaks to a different part of our life. They are three legs of a stool supporting the sanctified life by directing us how to live and relate to the past, the present, and the future.
The command to remember speaks to the past as in Ephesians 2:11-12, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles in the flesh and called uncircumcised by the so-called circumcision ….. remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
We remember so that we never go back. Once you set your shoulder to the plow, there can be no retreat, and remembering where you came from is the key to knowing where you are going.
We are commanded to watch in the present. Watch not just for his coming (Mark 13:35), but also watch ourselves, our actions, those around us, and our own lives to be sure they are consistent with our profession of faith and act accordingly. We lie more to ourselves than to anyone else, and therefore require constant self-evaluation to be sure we are not straying from the path.
Luke puts it this way in chapter 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Lastly, we are commanded to hope, for simply remembering and watching are insufficient without an eternal hope. As the world chews us up, uses us, lies to us, and consumes us, we will certainly fail unless our hope is elsewhere. Peter said it well when Jesus asked his disciples if they would leave as the others did. Peter replied “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Peter understood what we must all understand who desire to enter at the narrow gate – namely that there is no promise greater than the one offered by Jesus, and no matter how offensive it may seem at times, you let go of that hope at the cost of your own soul.
We Remember, Watch, and Hope, not focusing on one at the expense of the others, for without all three, we limit ourselves in seeing the impossible.