In I Corinthians 13:13, the great love chapter by Paul, he concludes by writing, “these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It is not difficult to understand two. Faith and love are easy.
Faith is what we believe. It is the beginning or the foundation of our religion. That could be any religion. But of course I am writing about Christianity. What we believe could be summarized in the Peter’s statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Of course, faith is more than just a beginning, but it is the beliefs that dictate the way we act and live.
Love on the other hand is the result of our faith in Jesus. One of the articles that I wrote for the paper previously pointed out the command to love. That should be the natural result of our faith in Jesus because he told us that we should love like he loved. That really is one of the basic differences between Christianity and all other religions.
But what about hope? I think that it is the neglected one of the three that remain. What is hope? It can be understood in more than one way.
First of all there is hope or a desire for something that we want. Like we hope that the member of the opposite sex that has caught our eye will reciprocate our hope for love and companionship. But we know that it does not always work out that way.
Next there is a hope for material things. Maybe we hope for a new car or house or something else. We might hope to the point of being able to picture it in our mind. So we set ourselves to work to earn the money that will make our hope a reality and hopefully we will achieve our goal.
But is Paul writing about that kind of hope in I Corinthians 13? I don’t think so. What is his hope? It is more than a desire. For him it is already a reality. Something that he knows he can put his faith on.
Paul writes about this united three, faith, hope and love, in I Thessalonians 1:3. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There it is. Our hope is in Jesus. That he was real. That his death on the cross was for our sins not his, because he was sinless. That his resurrection was real.
We recently celebrated Easter in which Christians remember the day in which Jesus was raised from the dead. Yes, we really believe that it happened. That is the basic hope of Christianity.
Can we prove that by physical evidence? No. But that does not make it less real. Our faith, the Bible, even outside history says that it was real. That is hope.
We hope in heaven. Can we prove that with physical evidence? Of course not. But is it any less real? Again of course not. Our surety of heaven is Jesus.
We are looking forward to his second coming. Is it real? Yes. Our hope insists on it.
Hope fills our life with joy. We should have a smile on our faces as we live in this world. We are different because of our hope. If we don’t have hope, we will be pessimists and just like the rest of the world.
Hope is what keeps us going. If it were not for hope, I believe we would all be stuck in fear. If there is no hope for the future, then we might as well just quit and give up. Sept. 11, 2001 was designed by the terrorists to stop us and make us give up. But America being what it is overcame the fear and continued on. The same is true of our religious faith. Our belief in Jesus fills us with hope and enables us to overcome this world and everything in it.
May we have the surety of hope that leads to our endurance in this world.
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author’s church affiliation.)