A couple of years ago I camped out in 1 Corinthians 13, well known in Christendom as “the love chapter”. I got to the end and was baffled for the thousandth time about the last verse, which reads,
“Now faith, hope and love, abide in these three. But the greatest of these is love.”
The previous 999 times, I guess it was just doomed to be a forever mystery to me, as are a few other Biblical texts. But this time I decided to investigate more thoroughly. I wanted to know how in the world love could trump faith and hope. Truthfully, I felt kinda stupid because I had never known the answer to this question, but I decided to overcome my pride and seek outside counsel.
Don’t you hate it when you ask a question and someone basically tells you to figure it out for yourself?
I called Jonathan Morris, who at that time was pastoring the church in which I grew up – Union Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas. When I asked the question, he pointed me back to the Scripture, back to the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13… Don’t you hate it when you ask a question and someone basically tells you to figure it out for yourself? Ugh. But he wasn’t leaving me, he was merely guiding me to see it for myself instead of him directly telling me the answer – that’s what great teachers do…. dang it. He challenged me to read through the text again to see, beginning in verse 8, that there was a time element associated with various gifts from God like prophecies (they will pass away), tongues (they will cease), and knowledge (will pass away) and give way to something far better. These gifts are contrasted with love, which will never end.
And then I saw it. Praise God, I SAW IT! Immediately my eyes filled with tears when I comprehended this eternal truth – faith and hope are temporary. We will only need them while we are here on earth. But, when we die in this life and gain entrance into the perfection of our new heavenly home, we won’t need faith anymore – our faith will have been realized – our faith will then be our sight! And we won’t need hope anymore because our hope for the future will be fulfilled as we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor and finally be face to face with the living God. But love… oh LOVE NEVER ENDS. I know, I know… for many of you, reading this is NOT new news… you’ve known it for a long time. Or you figured it out by yourself. But for me this was a revelation.
This absolute truth is one that I will rest on today as we bury my friend, Sharon Lynn. Besides that great and marvelous Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18, I am filled with joy to know she no longer requires faith or hope. She has moved into the next life and will forever enjoy seeing and being seen, knowing and being known, and loving as she has been loved. Forever in the presence of the One true God – our great Lord and King – God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.