The Greatest of These…

I’ve taken a few weeks to write about the two “theological virtues” of faith and hope, but now I want to take some time to focus on love.  If you were ask Jesus or the New Testament authors what the most important characteristic of a disciple is, I’m pretty confident that love would be the answer:

IMG_0599“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

“…whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” Romans 13:9-10

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

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More than Wishful Thinking

Photo Credit: pol sifter via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: pol sifter via Compfight cc

Hope is a powerful word. When you hear stories of people who made it through terrible trials, you often hear them say that they had hope or that they tried to not lose hope. It’s one of the words that helped propel President Obama to win his election. It’s also a very important word in the pages of scripture. It is a word that is supposed to describe God’s people, but what is it?

Much like faith, we use the word hope frequently and to some extent have missed the deeper meaning of the word. Especially in the case of hope, we often tend to water down the word so that when we see it in scripture it doesn’t have the power that it ought to have. If you’re like me most of the time, most of the time that you hear the word hope it’s wishful thinking, something that you would like to come to pass but it may not happen. Hope in scripture has a different meaning. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s confidence. Continue reading

Cultivating a life of Faith

Photo Credit: Zaprittsky via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Zaprittsky via Compfight cc

There’s a scene in the movie Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik are looking out over a cliff as the masked man dangles from the rock face even though they just cut the rope that he was climbing. Vizzini says, “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!” To which Inigo replies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” That’s the way I feel sometimes about the way that we use faith.

Faith is considered one of the three theological virtues along with Hope and Love. Of the three, however, I think faith may be the one that is the fuzziest. I think it’s the one we use the most and define about the least. Many people will say that they have faith, meaning that they believe in God or that they hold to a particular “Faith” like Christianity or Judaism. We are told to have faith or encouraged to come to faith in Jesus, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

Change of Actions or Change of Heart

Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc

I don’t know if it’s an epidemic in the American church. I don’t know if it has to do with our culture, but I do know that there is something that a lot of us struggle with, including myself, when it comes to living as a follower of Christ. We wrestle with the thought that we’re just not doing enough or that we’re just not good enough. We’re trying really hard and we could just do better then we’d be better Christians. The fact of the matter is, however, that our live of following Christ is not primarily about doing good things, it’s about being formed into a good person. Continue reading