Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Faith, Hope, & Love ... Why These Three



At some point soon after the Apostle Paul entrusted himself to Jesus as Lord and Savior, he discovered a connection between the notions of faith, hope, & love. He was so struck by the relationship within these three realities that he began & ended a number of his inspired letters with the triad. It’s powerful for me because God's just begun leading Aleta & I into a radical re-understanding of faith.

One such example from Paul is in Colossians 1:3-5, which reads, “We give thanks to God . . . praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus & the love which you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven of which you previously heard in the word of truth - the gospel.” This passage is significant because of the synonymous reference to hope & truth. They are connected in parallel fashion. When we speak of real hope, we’re speaking of our alignment with not-yet-fulfilled truth.

I’ve written before on love & truth & the dynamic relationship between the two. In fact, I recently spent months preaching on that couplet in a series about healing our hearts & deep restoration. To sum those previous ideas up, Truth is the Reality, the Standard by which all things are measured & to which all good things conform. Furthermore, the Truth is defined & delivered in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With this, Truth is intended to purify our Loves (Matthew 6:24; 1 Peter 1:22) so our Love’s are rightly oriented & in accordance with God’s design & blessing. Love conforms to Truth (not the other way around).

The powerful thing in all this is that Love & Faith, as described by Paul in Colossians 1, are “because” of hope in the Truth. Apparently our full alignment with the Truth (i.e. Jesus the Word) produces Love & Faith.

There is a theologically parallel passage to this in the Old Testament in Proverbs 3:3-8, which says, “Do not let kindness (Heb. “hesed”, Lit. “love”) & truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor & good repute in the sight of God & man. Trust in the Lord (i.e. faith) with all your heart & do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him (holiness, obedience), & He will make your paths straight (divine provision). Do not be wise in your own eyes (faith); fear the Lord & turn away from evil (holiness, obedience). It will be healing to your body & refreshment to your bones (divine provision).”


So mature Faith - the kind that unleashes supernatural power (Matthew 9:22) - matures & grows as a result of holiness ... which is another way of describing a lifestyle inclined & conformed to the Christ-connected realities of Truth & Love.

Living Faith cannot be divorced from a holy lifestyle (James 2:26). Do we want to see more miraculous ministry in & through our lives? Do we want Christ’s ministry of healing, authority over demons, supernatural courage to speak a compelling Gospel, & inconceivable love to pour through us into others? Do we want to make that kind of impact on our world? There is but one path to such a life. It is a path of radical holiness rooted in Christ’s embodied Truth & Love. From such intimate growth toward Jesus, the mustard seed that is our Faith will indeed become a very strong & tall tree.

I am beginning to believe that Jesus actually meant what He said in Matthew 5:48, "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect". Fancy that... believing Jesus. Hm. How have I missed this for so long?

1 comment:

John Lynch said...

Connections?

The three pillars of self-image (& really all relationships) are Acceptability, Significance, & Capability. We need to recognize that we have all of those as image-bearing products of God's handiwork.

So, is there a connection between Faith, Hope, & Love & these other three ideas?

Faith is power... Capability.
Hope is rooted in truth, also connected with fear & reverence (mostly in the OT)... Significance stuff.

Love is about lovability... Acceptability.

Faith - Capability
Hope - Significance
Love - Acceptability

A strong sense of Significance & Acceptability without a sense of Capability leaves a person feeling weak, victimized, helpless, ever-unsafe. It prevents them from relating to others as God designed them. It seems that a strong presence of Hope & Love without real Faith (i.e. effectual & supernatural Faith) does the same thing.

How can a Christian effectively evangelize when they lack the miraculous? I mean... if their theoretically certain but practically unsure of miracle-producing-faith, then what are they offering to people? Heaven? ...Yes. Definitely that. And that's a compelling point, indeed. Also forgiveness. But how about the innate drive to partner with God in His work? Perhaps our failure to address that thirst is why many Christians eventually fall away. They are idle! They're bored with building things that frequently taste so natural with a little divine character rubbed on top. Like a cardboard cake with really good frosting.

I don't know... I'm kind of rambling here, but I figure I'm commenting on a post that's old, so no one will ever read it but me.

Nevertheless, the connenction between Faith, Hope, & Love ... and Capability, Significance, & Acceptability is striking - along with the serious implications of imbalance or partial lack.