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The One Thing that Remains

June 5, 2017

The Bible tells us in 1 Cor 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Even if one has never studied scripture, it is very likely that they have heard this verse quoted before in numerous sermons, at weddings, or even at funerals. But I recently read an observation made by famous Catholic theologian, pastor and teacher, Henri Nouwen, regarding this verse which spoke to my spirit. “Hope and faith will both come to an end when we die. But love will remain. Love is eternal. Love comes from God and returns to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love. The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us. It is the divine, indestructible core of our being.”

Hope is an essential ingredient to an impactful life. Without hope we can grow discouraged in our journey and our efforts, and investment can seem futile; hope keeps us focused and motivated. Faith is that commodity which provides courage and strength as we invest. It is the unshakable belief that the one in whom we have trusted, will come through and provide for whatever we have need of. However, after death, once we have crossed the veil into His presence, both faith and hope will be superfluous. Why? Because once in His presence, both faith and hope will be realized and therefore no longer necessary, but love will continue to be the divine element that binds the Kingdom of God together.

In mean time, while we are working to advance the Kingdom of God on earth, we need the full operation of all three; faith, hope, and love. As Kingdom citizens, we need to walk by faith and not by sight. We need to be citizens who, by faith, see a solution in every situation. We need to be people who evidence an unwavering trust is the King. We also need to be carriers of hope. Or as Barry and I like to coin it, we should be dealers in “hopium.” When someone walks away from a conversation with us, they should always feel more hopeful than when they arrived. Surrounded by negative media, we shine brightest when we are filled with hope.

In addition to faith and hope, we build the Kingdom of God on the one eternal ingredient – LOVE, because at the end of the day and at the end of our life love is the one thing that remains.


*After nearly two decades of teaching at academic institutions including the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, Nouwen went on to work with mentally and physically handicapped people at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario