These three remain – Faith, Hope, Love – but …

hollis-for-hollistorial-adj-clippedIf love makes the world go round,

And God is love.

Then, God makes the world go round.

The logic formula was explained during my first university philosophy class, namely …

If A equals B
And B equals C
Then C equals A.

We were thrilled to understand the universe through such a simple mathematical equation. Great fun awaited us as we looked forward to trying it out on family and peers.

Then Professor Brown pricked our academic fantasy.

He asked, “Do you all agree that if A equals B, and B equals C, then C equals A?”

Every hand shot up in perfectly orchestrated unison.

Then he illustrated how illogical logic could be.

He stated, “All goats have beards.”

We smiled in agreement.

Professor, pointing to his face, “Brown has a beard.”

The smiles vanished from our faces, we knew what the next sentence would be.

The professor concluded, “Then Brown is a goat.”

Wide eyed, we gawked at our smiling professor who warned, “Like life, logic is not always what it seems to be.”

Let’s get back to Paul.

Maybe he inadvertently reasoned … if faith = hope, and hope = love, then all three must be equal.

As usual, from his prison Paul wrote letters answering questions posed by the fledging Christians in Corinth. One question centred on the foundations upon which to build their church community. He narrowed his recommendations to three — faith, hope, love. These provided the perfectly balanced three-legged stool for Christian belief and action.

Then he seriously gnawed on the logic of his recommendation.

Maybe he inadvertently reasoned … if faith = hope, and hope = love, then all three must be equal.

Perhaps he questioned his suppositions, rationalizing that all three could be equal. But one could be more equal than the other two.

Eventually his intense mental struggling and even deeper meditation compelled him to add the postscript, “but the greatest of these is love.”

Maybe Paul influenced George Orwell’s logical/illogical pathways in writing his book Animal Farm. “All animals are equal,” was the first commandment declared when the animals revolted and drove the humans from the barnyard. However, when the pigs seized control of the farm society, they issued a revised commandment, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

In another letter, Paul seemed to shift gears when he wrote to Christians in Thessalonica. “We remember your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the 17th century, Brother Lawrence of the Carmelite Monastery in Paris supported the logic of the three-legged Christian stool.

“Many things are possible for the person who has hope. Even more is possible for the person who has faith. And still more is possible for the person who knows how to love. But everything is possible for the person who practices all three virtues.”

Bill, our next-door neighbour for years, was a talented graphic artist and a quiet individual. He seldom spoke about his beliefs, rarely attended church worship and avoided social gatherings, but reflected often on solving human problems. I think he built his adult life around Paul’s three pillars … faith, hope, love.

After we moved to another province, we communicated through Christmas cards and short visits during our summer vacation. One year, tucked inside our Christmas card was a hand-written note. In his best graphic artist script, Bill penned, “I have come to the conclusion that the answer to all the world’s problems is love”.

The sooner the whole world arrives at that level of understanding and plants the seeds of love in every conceivable situation, the sooner we humans will make the world go ’round through God’s love.

This HOLLIStorial completes the series on Paul’s Faith (November 2018), Hope (December 2018) and Love (January 2019).