Tuesday, March 27, 2012

These Three

"But now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13

Fatih, according to the timeless wisdom and relevance of the Bible, is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as the confident assurance that the things we hope for will actually come to pass. Other translations are a little more poetic, but the essential truth is that faith is an unwavering belief in Jehovah God and a firm confidence in His fidelity to His promises. It is the essential component to any serious endeavor to live a Christian life. By faith we are saved, thus instigating the journey. It's the starting point of a transformed life for those who embark on an eternal relationship with the invisible God. Faith is the conduit--the connection--of the finite with the infinite.

Hope is the mechanism by which the connection is sustained. It is the part of us that is certain there is a God in heaven who can and does intervene in our circumstances and who has a purpose for our lives that continues into eternity. It is a gift from God that we can also give to one another. How good of God to let us join the fun! We can offer hope to one another, bear one another's burdens and, "comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:4) We are comforted and comfort others with the hope that God is at work and we have not been abandoned regardless of how bleak things might seem at a particular moment in time.

Interestingly, faith and hope are not eternal qualities, but essential tools for navigating life in a fallen world. They will be unnecessary in the world to come. The instant we see God face-to-face, our faith will be rewarded and our hope realized. And when they are, it will be more extraordinary than anything we can possibly imagine! What I like to call the eternal gasp of delight.

But love? Ah! Love is eternal! God is love and God is eternal, therefore our faith and hope will culminate in the unending and ecstatic enjoyment of Divine perfection and love. It's the greatest of the three because it is the perpetual and sine qua non (without which not) nature of God.

How magnificent of the Lord to give us all the tools we need to navigate a life of faith while we are "alive and remain," then sweep us into His heavenly home to dwell with Him forever in the bliss of perfect love and fellowship. One thing is sure: I will cling to faith and hope tenaciously in this life, but will gladly lay them down when it's my turn to enter the supreme satisfaction and rest of the eternal life to come.