What seemed like only a fictional possibility often seen in movies from the ’90s finally became a reality. A virus spread across the planet threatening the lives of millions and taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. During times and seasons like these, it’s sometimes difficult not to be overwhelmed by questions, feelings and confusion at what is happening in the world around us. The world seems different. The world is different. Various, organisations and communities have had to quickly adapt to various situations changing so fast our plans seem to be in constant flux. And yet, amidst all the uncertainty and chaos, these three remain: faith, love and hope.  
 

Faith 

According to my nephew, I am a time-traveller. I have spent many of my days in the Graeco-Roman world studying the lives and thinking of the first Christians. The first Christians were a minority group often swayed by the whims and intolerances of those who dominated the ancient landscape. They too faced pandemics, oppression, injustice and confusion. And yet because of their experience of God’s love, for them seen most clearly in the life of Jesus, they were relentlessly committed to God and to one another. Faith for them wasn’t an idea or intellectual assent, it was a life-giving allegiance and loyalty to God but also to one another in the communities they lived and beyond. This led them to love.  

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Woman praying.

Love 

Love is sometimes a weak word, used inappropriately of cheeseburgers or sneakers. And yet, we’re stuck with it. So let me define the word as the early Christians understood it. Love is a caring and concerned commitment to the well-being and benefit of others, enabling all to flourish.  

From the margins, the first Christians were able to effect great impact and eventually change the shape and way of life for much of the Roman empire. They shared their lives, resources, time, skills and gifts so that all could flourish. They were a community that were sensitively attuned to the needs of the world, seeking to promote justice through their compassion and care for one another and those beyond their community. They did this because they had hope.  


Hope  

Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a confident expectation of good for the future. It is focussed and sustained by the testimony of God’s relentless faithfulness and the example of Jesus. Even when things were chaotic and difficult for the first Christians, they had hope because they knew God was faithful and wise. God has this amazing ability to transform situations that seem desperate and despairing, and bring life and light.  

In a world plagued by uncertainty, anxiety and confusion may we be a people of faith, love and hope. May these reflections by me and my colleagues on faith, love and hope inspire and empower you to have faith, love and hope today, tomorrow and into the future. May we have a confident expectation of good for the future because we are those who are concerned, committed and caring enough to create that kind of future. And may we have faith that the relentless God of love will guide and sustain our efforts. Let’s pray.


Prayer  

Gracious God of faith, love and hope we thank you for your past faithfulness. We thank you that you have proved yourself reliable time and time again. We ask that you would continue to remind us of your goodness and strengthen us that we may remain faithful to you and your purposes in this world. We thank you that your people have been the consistent recipients of your love throughout the ages. Help us to be conduits and conveyers of your care and concern to those among us and those afar. Remind us that you are the God who can be trusted, and therefore we can have a confident expectation that you will continue to do good and bring about good throughout our lives, organizations, communities and churches. We give thanks to you in the name of Jesus.  

 

Sean du Toit is a part of the incredible education and advocacy team at Tearfund NZ, working at the interface between theology and justice. More importantly, he is the grateful husband of Sue, and the blessed father of Ava and Mia, who bring much joy to his life.  

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