The Christian life has three ingredients: faith, love, and hope. We must have all three to truly live out the Christian life.
The Christian life is grounded in faith in Jesus Christ. Paul’s message was not about a new religion; it was not about Paul’s ideas. It was all about Jesus. After hearing this story, some people in Thessalonica turned from their idols and converted to Jesus (1 Thess. 1:9). They transferred their faith from their self-appointed idols to the God-sent Jesus. Based on what they had heard, they placed their faith in Jesus Christ. They did not add Jesus to their own idols; they got rid of the idols and embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord. The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ that turns people away from their idols and toward God, therefore leading to salvation by Him and in Him. This is an essential ingredient of the Christian life. We cannot have faith in our idols and in God. It’s either/or.
The Christian life is shown forth in love. If we really trust God and believe in Him, this leads us to the second ingredient. Paul says that the Christian life consists of faith in God and love. If we have faith, we must have love as well. Faith without love is not a real faith. It is a poisoned ingredient. It is a fake ingredient. Real faith in God is always followed by love.
If we say, “I believe in God but I don’t love,” that’s not the authentic recipe. On the other hand, if we say, “I love all but I don’t believe in Christ,” that’s not the love the Bible talks about. In some Christian circles, the risk is to sever faith from love, putting an emphasis on faith but not always matching it with love. In other circles, they want love, but without a commitment to the historic gospel of Jesus Christ. But we cannot have true love without true faith. They are inseparable.
The Christian life is lived out with hope. Faith redirects our lives from our petty idols to the living God who gave His Son to bear our sins for our salvation. Love opens up our lives not to be self-centered but to care for others. Paul says that there is hope that amalgamates the whole. These new Christians learned to gear their lives around “the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:6), to live in anticipation of His second coming, to look forward to eternity with God. Before they turned to God, these Christians were self-centered and time-limited. Their lives were hopeless and sealed in their time frames. After believing and loving, they learned to live with an eternal hope in their hearts, even in the midst of suffering, difficult circumstances, and trials.
Faith, love, and hope: this is the biblical recipe of the Christian life. Is it your life?