Friday, May 05, 2006

Faith, Hope and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 TNIV

" these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

: I first experienced it through my family. I possessed it in the same way I possessed the house I grew up in. It was "mine" in a sense, but only because it was "ours". I had it because my parents had it. This may strike you as a bad thing, however I would disagree. I think it's a beautiful thing...and a true thing. I believe that a person must experience the faith of others before they can have a vibrant faith of their own. I thank God that I had the opportunity to experience the sincere and vibrant faith of my parents (and their parents before them, etc.) before I could choose faith. Faith was hard wired into me (I realize this is not everyone's experience). I now see it happening in my daughter, Emma. She has a "faith" of sorts, but she has it because we do. She is ecstatic about any opportunity to go to church. She loves reading Bible stories at night. She has never chosen to have faith. At this point, faith is simply the context of her existence. At some point, she will question all of it. As her parents, Dana and I will be there to hold her hand and walk with her as she questions. We will wrestle with our own fear and elation as she honestly comes to different answers than we did. We will do the same as she honestly finds many of the truths we taught her to actually be true. We will do our best when she comes up with questions we never anticipated.

Hope: But here's the thing...I anticipate God's future for her. I envision her as a woman of profound and vibrant faith. I expect that she will have the kind of faith that makes a difference in the world rather than being a mere intellectual exercise. Her mother and I are partnering with God in the mission of helping this vision of the future become a reality. At the same time, we all realize that despite all of this, our daughter will have a choice. And (I speak from experience here), people can make incredibly stupid choices. Even so, because of our faith and because the streams of faith that her mother and I come from, we choose to hope. Full of hope, we anticipate God's future in our daughter's life...and in the world around her. We assume the best future and then pour our lives into partnering with God so that future can break into reality. Every night Dana and I pray that God is raising up a man for Emma to share her life with...someone who will love her...someone who will respect and cherish her...someone who will encourage and empower her to be everything that she was meant to be. We anticipate a future where this is true and live accordingly.

Love: You see, we love our much that sometimes we can't wipe the goofy smiles off our faces...and so much that sometimes it hurts. If she makes choices that take her down a different path than those that we anticipate for her, we will continue to love her and we will continue to hope for God's future in her life and the world around her. The stream of faith that we live in tells us that God loves her more than we do and hopes for that future in her life and world more than we do. Our love for our daughter isn't dependent on the choices she makes. We will never stop hoping for her future, no matter what. This may seem rationally counterintuitive. My relationship with my daughter is not based on reason. I don't love her because I decided to. My love for her consumes me. It is the reality that her mother and I live in.

These Three: Faith, Hope and Love. That's how it plays out in our family, but can you see how it would play out for the church? Can you see what it means for the world and for our relationship with"the world"? Can you see the difference this perspective makes for what we call "evangelism"?

The Greatest of These: As Rob Bell and the sticker on the back of my Jeep say, "Love Wins." This is the great reality of our faith and hope. We have confidence in the Way of Jesus. We believe that in a world where power, money, fear and death seem to win...Love actually wins. We believe this because of the cross and the resurrection of the Son of God. In a world that at times seems to be headed for Hell (in a handbasket), we believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking through. We believe that though the church seems to get it so wrong so often, she will rise to the occasion and the expectation of God...embracing the future God envisions for her. We believe that, though some people who we are forming genuine relationships with seem thoroughly uninterested in the Way of Jesus and seem to be taking their lives in a different direction, God is partnering with us in their lives...that he loves them and hopes for their future even more than we do. With our God we will continue to love and hope for them, regardless of the choices they make. We will stubbornly, passionately live these lives of faith, hope and love, because these 3 things are the reality of the Kingdom of God. The greatest of these is Love, for it is exactly because of the love of God and the love of other that we have faith to start with, and it is because of the love of God and our love for others that we have faith in them and hope for their future.


No comments: