Saved by Faith, Hope and Love

For many years, I have pursued various ways of feeding mind, heart and soul early in the day, mostly to keep myself out of the very large ditches that erode the shoulders where I tend to drive.  This summer, free at last of a ton of outside pulls, I am undertaking a small daily discipline of a prayerful reflection on a quote, thought or scripture.  They’ll be short, and to be good to myself, I’ll do it every day unless I don’t, in which case, you’re on your own 🙂

It can be found at facebook, but thought I’d let my friends here know, and I’ll be back to the blog now, also.  My writing soul is starving from “doing.”    The daily quotes can be found on facebook.  Click HERE

Today’s reflection to kick it off is from Reinhold Niebuhr, about faith hope and love.  Thanks.

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Saved by Faith, Hope and Love

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. 
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we Niebuhrmust be saved by faith. 

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. 

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.” 
― Reinhold NiebuhrThe Irony of American History

I first heard this wonderful quotation from my friend Fisher Humphreys, who quoted it from memory at dinner one night.  I had read it before many years ago when I read Niebuhr, but this one is gorgeous.  Niebuhr deserves a lot of reconsideration by our current society.  His hard-headed acknowledgement of human sinfulness is a good corrective to fluffy optimism.

For faith, hope and love, that great triumvirate of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 13, stand next to the two great commandments of Jesus to love God and neighbor as high marks of Christian thought.  Faith, hope and love are enough to occupy an entire lifetime without delving into all the intramural scraps of religion.  That it is written to a church decimated by immoral behavior, fights over worship styles, divisions behind competitive personalities and members suing one another and class divisions in the communion service makes Paul’s lofty prayer even more powerful.

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NRSV)

Niebuhr had it right.  Without hope that extends beyond life there is nothing worth doing.  Without confident trust in what is right and good and true, there is no abiding the present.  Without the joy of community there is no power sufficient to see a great cause through.  And without forgiveness, we cannot escape disillusion and despair of life, which the ancient monks called “acedia” (sloth).

Day by day, oh, dear lord, three things I pray:  to hope beyond my own demise, to believe in what is beyond my controlling grasp, and to share my life with others rather than clutch it to myself in the delusion of survival.  Help me to forgive so that I may enjoy these Thy gifts in the laughter and pleasure of the Kingdom.                           Gary Furr

About Gary Furr

Gary is a musician, writer and Christian minister living in Alabama.

Posted on June 11, 2013, in Faith, Forgiveness, Hope, Love, Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nail on the head, again.

  2. Thanks for the Niebuhr quote! I had read that one before, but you do a good service by bringing his statement back into my consciousness, and by elaborating on what that means as we live out our life.

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