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?