Life in three words doesn’t sound like much of a life unless the words are faith, hope and love. Big words for a full life.
Woodstock was in 1969 and I was 11 and still sent to Sunday School by parents who prided themselves on being good rather than being thankful for being forgiven. It was one year off the 70’s and one year off my teenage rampages which were tame by comparison to those of teens today. It was the era of music and for so many of us, love.
Of course Woodstock was more than a concert on a farm hill. It proved to be a revolution for a world bent in on itself. It’s now 2019 and I am 50 years older. I found myself on YouTube watching Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing at the Farm Aid Concert 2000. Like me, they were much older. I think you could also say they seemed less stoned. They were still singing the anthem of the revolution, “Love the one you’re with”. It was a revolution that ultimately failed despite the best efforts of many. In the 70’s I sang along but this week I finally took time to consider the words: “If you're down and confused and you don't remember who you're talking to, concentration slips away because your baby is so far away, Well, there's a rose in a fisted glove and the eagle flies with the dove and if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with, love the one you're with… Don't be angry, don't be sad and don't sit crying over good times you had. There's a girl right next to you and she's just waiting for something to do…love the one you’re with…”
The lyrics of course are a lie and don’t express love at all but unrestrained instincts where the restraints of love are missing. Loving the one you’re with because you are “waiting for something to do” is not love. It is a far cry from the love expressed in the Bible, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…
Anyone can live out the lyrics of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young but I am yet to meet anyone who can live out the love the Bible presents. In fact the only individual I can think of in history whose love never fails, is my Sunday School hero, Jesus Christ - patient with the sinful, kind to the undeserving, self-sacrificial for others, lifting up the broken, harbouring no bitterness, defeating evil and unquestionably truthful. His love for us is totally trustworthy and in Him hope does not disappoint. True love is like that and this is the sort of love that gives a full life.
Every event in life teaches us the value of faith and the necessity of hope but in the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ, faith finds its reason and hope its assurance. No wonder the Bible teaches that of these three enormous words, faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.
Do you believe this? Well that’s faith. Do you have faith in Jesus Christ? Then hope springs eternal for you. Why? Because in a world of things that can empty us, Jesus came to fill us with the love of God.
“You do you” is pretty silly. To be honest, the fullest life is when God does us. Christ made me, saved me and has given me a life where all its events have filled me with faith, hope and love. The good news is that Christ can do this for you as well. Three words! Not a bad life!