So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three…
At the core of Christianity resides three key elements — faith, hope, and love — and all three elements share a common trait: they motivate one to act. James teaches us to live out our faith through works. John challenges us to love with deeds, not just words. And like its brethren, true hope compels one to seize a better future through action.
In moments when you say, “I hope this or that happens,” consider what makes you think the good thing will come to pass. Too often, we insert the word hope when wishful thinking is really more appropriate. We have no reason to believe based on past evidence this good thing will happen in the future and we probably aren’t contemplating what could be done to ensure it will come to pass.
For example, maybe you have a friend who is consistently making the same mistake over and over. He or she never seems to learn, never attempts to make a correction, never listens to your appeals to change. You might say, “I hope he or she changes.” However, has he or she ever given you reason to hope? It’s good to believe the best in people and to be optimistic, but a better future does not just magically appear from an unceasing string of bad choices. But were this person to attempt to change, a better future is far more realistic and therefore hope is more realistic.
I believe the same holds true for the Christian. People want to go to heaven, but do they act like it? Like many of you reading this blog, I don’t believe heaven is earned. But I do believe how we act does factor into our salvation. Consider 1 John 3:2:
"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."
This verse touches on a portion of our hope in Christ: when Jesus appears, He will transform our bodies into a body like the one He now occupies. John says we know precious little about it. Elsewhere, Paul calls this transformation a mystery. Nevertheless, for the Christian this is the very essence of hope — a better body and a better future. John goes on:
"And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."
If we have this hope in Christ, what will we do? Purify our lives. And how do we purify our lives? Verse 7:
"Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous."
Notice the parallel between verses 3 and 7. Jesus is pure so we should purify our lives. Jesus is righteous so we should practice righteousness. And remember, John connects this with hope. If we have hope in Jesus, we will act accordingly.
Like faith with its works and love with its deeds, hope compels one to act. If we look forward to a glorious resurrection and an eternity with God, we will seize this better future by purifying our lives through practicing righteousness. You see, hopeful people believe they have a hand in making their better future happen.