The mother of a close friend of mine recently passed away. By a coincidental series of circumstances, I happened to be back in my hometown and was able to attend her memorial service. The priest conducting the celebration of this caring woman delivered a homily that I really appreciated. In particular, there was one thought that I had never considered before he said it. He spoke of her (and others) who now reside in Heaven and reminded us of one of the most famous verses in the New Testament.
The verse is the climactic thought in what is known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. After giving us what amounts to a Biblical definition of love, the Apostle Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (Verse 13) A lot of folks have this verse memorized. It’s one of those ones you can often find embroidered on a pillow or painted on a wall plaque.
One Out of Three Ain’t Bad
What he said, and his thought to which I had never given much prior consideration, was the fact that, in Heaven, we will no longer need the first two of that trio that Paul said would remain. The priest’s words really struck me, because I hadn’t remembered ever thinking about them in that way. As far as we can tell, in eternity we will no longer need faith and hope.
Faith will be unnecessary because we’ll see the Lord, face to face. If faith is what the writer of the book of Hebrews contends it is (“confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”), it will no longer be a prerequisite. By then, we’ll have seen everything—including the Lord. Faith will have become a bridge linking our life on earth to our new life with God.
Likewise, all of our hopes will have been realized. They will have become fact, and hope will be primarily relegated to our past. Hope, as vitally important as it is to us today, will become almost passé—an all but obsolete reminder of a life well-lived.
Another Important Trio
Paul says the trio of faith, hope, and love will remain, but he also stresses that the greatest of the three is love. The first two might remain, but the one that will always be needed will be love. Faith and hope are absolute musts in this life, but love is eternally indispensable.
As far as I can tell, everyone I know is desirous of all three. You don’t have to be a Christian to be eager for faith, hope, and love. In fact, I suspect that having all three in tandem is the closest thing to Heaven we’ll experience on earth. We can place our faith in a lot of things, we can hope for much, and we can love with all our hearts. These are God-given. Realizing the completion and perfection of them in the presence of the Lord will be Heaven.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]