In Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians he begins the letter with these wonderful words:
We keep thanking God for all of you and we remember you in our prayers, for we constantly are mindful before our God and Father of the way you are proving your faith, and laboring in love, and showing constancy of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, too, brothers [and sisters] beloved of God, how you were chosen. Our preaching of the gospel proved not a mere matter of word for you but one of power; it was carried on in the Holy Spirit and out of complete conviction. (1Thes. 1:2-5a)
These words are spoken to us today as well as to the Thessalonians so many years ago.
LOVE: Paul is telling us that loving and caring for one another is a hallmark of Christian life. A significant part of that love and care is taking each other to prayer. How often do you pray for the person who annoys you? How often do you pray for your family members and friends? Is gratitude part of that prayer? Paul tells the Thessalonians that part of his responsibility and that of his fellow Christians is to be grateful for each other and to pray for each other. If we bring others to our prayer, we will feel and act differently toward each other. If we listen with our hearts to others we will bond with them in new or renewed ways that contribute to the true meaning of the Christian community.
FAITH: When we read the gospels and other New Testament writings it becomes clear that faith is really love put into action. When we look at love we see the example of Jesus. When we believe that Jesus died for us, that we are redeemed, that we are destined for eternal life together, then our actions will reflect these beliefs. When we deeply believe that God loves us we will freely return that love. Faith is a personal relationship with Christ as our brother and Lord. This is not merely an intellectual assent to a corpus of beliefs but rather it is something alive, something dynamic. Faith is experiential. Faith, when it is most alive, is the active love we show Christ and others. It can be said that faith is love made real through action because of our beliefs.
HOPE: True faith, while showing itself in action, must look forward in hope – a hope of something more, of something beyond our present experience. But that hope in the future is based on what has already occurred, on what we already know and experience. In other words, our faith and love of God and each other is real now but there is always the seeking for something more, something deeper. We continually long for the Reign of God to be fulfilled here and now. Yet, the Reign of God is one of those paradoxes that says “it is” but “not yet.” We must continue as Christians to make the “it is” as real as possible in our own lives and in the lives of others.
We are told that the two great commandments consist of love of God and love of neighbor. Faith, hope and love are intimately tied to these interlinking commandments. One without the other is impossible. We are to model that continually.
How are faith, love, and hope lived out in your daily life?
How are you beliefs aligned with faith, hope and love?