‘Faith is the substance of what we are hoping for’ (Priscilla’s words in Heb. 11) presents one of the relationships between faith and hope. Hope is like the mould that faith can then fill. Ultimate hope is of re-creation, the renewal of all things – that outcome is secure. What I term ‘interim’ hope is that bright outlook on the future, that expectation that something will change. That kind of hope, if it is to contribute to the future, cannot be simply (naive) optimism but has to be based on some solid foundations. If that hope is genuine faith becomes the bridge across which heaven’s values travel to our realm. From the initial hope then as faith increases so there is a shift. (Faith increasing was Paul’s prayer for the Corinthian church. They practically lacked at so many levels in their call to fill their region with heavens’ presence, but Paul narrowed down the lack to ‘faith’.)
There remains faith and hope, Paul says – and love. I have written a few times that losing hope is understandable. The issues that need changing are enormous, but we need to look to where God is at work and put our hope there. As the body of Christ recovers her destiny to be the agent of change for the world hope can develop. This does not mean that God only works through the church, but that the church’s responsibility is to change the environment so that the good (and God-given) gifts of human servanthood and enterprise can be expressed.
My hope is for a recovery of that call in the body of Christ, to understand again the political (small ‘p’ please, not NOT NOT party politics, right, left, but certainly shaking all things about political passion) nature of the Gospel. My hope is for the partnership of the body of Christ both with heaven and with the world. Yes we have a long way to go and this signals a big shift from where we have been, but that is my hope.
Hope and faith grows… And not all things are resolved as we want. Maybe we did not really have faith, maybe we did not see the whole picture. Maybe we are not as smart as we thought. Maybe we just simply failed.
Faith and hope. And love. Those three remain, but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails, when our passions do not produce what we thought, when we have prayed and stood and just plain got knocked over… there is love.
There are losses. There are times when the good of the past disappears, but if there was love in there it is stored up in heaven. It cannot be lost:
He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you… in all of this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you mayhave had to suffer grief and in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6).
Stored in heaven, kept safe where rust nor moth can destroy. Stored there so that it can be revealed here in the eschaton. Everything good is stored… Setbacks are for real, our hopes might have been misplaced, our faith might not have been genuine… but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails we can love, and love opens the clearest channel to heaven to deposit all the good things that will be manifest on that great day.
Time for hope, time to believe, and if for whatever reason we do not see what we hoped for… provided in and through it all love remains, somehow everything that we hoped for but never saw, had hold of but lost… will come through the fire intact.
BTW: Priscilla is as likely as it being Paul who wrote Hebrews and as she is the best known female person with ‘P’ what more evidence do I need?