Faith, Hope, and Love

P1030227Yesterday I followed a car with those words on a bumper sticker: FAITH HOPE LOVE

This famous trio is named in 1 Corinthians 13:13 to round out the famous “love” chapter that used to be so frequently quoted at weddings. As a result, we think of these as Christian attributes.

I’ve been thinking about faith since my last post (which I wrote over a month ago–argh!), and I wanted to talk about this then but ran out of time. Seeing that bumper sticker reminded me, so here I am, finally, attempting to finish the thought I started writing about in early August.

Though it’s true that faith, along with its sisters hope and love, is vital to Christianity–indeed, without faith it’s not possible to follow Christ–faith is not unique to Christianity. A person can hope without knowing Christ. A person can love without believing in God. And a person can have faith–even vibrant, life-changing faith–without Christ.

But it’s not the sincerity or strength of our faith that matters; all that counts is the object of it.

Many years ago I read a newspaper article that illustrated this point better than sermonizing ever could. I don’t recall all the details, but this was reported as a factual incident in national newspapers some time in the early 1980s.

Two boys were best friends growing up. After they graduated, they went to college KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAtogether. They were Best Man in each others’ weddings and godfathers to the others’ children. At one point, they quit their jobs and started a business together.

They’d come up with a new kind of bulletproof vest that was lighter weight and more comfortable than the typical protective gear at the time. They marketed it to businessmen who traveled in South and Central America at a time when revolutions and terrorism made it dangerous to do business in that part of the world. Their pitch was that they were selling peace of mind. The vest was invisible beneath clothing, and it was so light and comfortable, you could forget you were wearing it.

They invited a number of international business executives to a luncheon and a demonstration of the product. After the meal, they brought out a vest and allowed the guests to try it on. I don’t recall if they were able to demonstrate how it deflected bullets–I believe this event was at a hotel, so they probably weren’t able to do any actual shooting, but they may have shown a film or photos of what happened when a bullet struck the armor.

What I do remember was that, during this demonstration, one of the partners put on the vest and the two announced that they would demonstrate that the vest not only protected against gunfire but also against a knife attack. Right there in front of their potential customers, the one partner drew a knife and stabbed his friend with it — and the armor effectively deflected the blade.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 9.37.01 PMThe audience was impressed, and the two men were no doubt pleased with their response. Did visions of dollar signs dance in their heads? Did they think about the educations they’d be able to provide their children with the profits from their new business? Did they think about the jewelry they’d buy their wives?

I have no idea. But I’m quite certain they had complete faith in their invention; it had already proven itself in various trials. The man wearing the vest had complete faith in his friend though he wielded a lethal weapon against him. And the man with the knife had no doubt that this sales pitch would be a success.

Like an exclamation point at the end of the demonstration, he made one more lunge toward his friend with the knife. But this time, the blade penetrated the armor and entered the wearer’s heart. He died in his best friend’s arms.

Those men both had absolute faith in themselves and their product.

It’s better to have an imperfect faith in the perfect God.


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