Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

What does it mean to be a Christian? Don’t we all wonder about that sometimes? The world gives so many mixed messages out there about religion, life, politics, worldview, etc. If we only relied on what others told us about being a Christian, especially through the media, we would get utterly confused and completely lost.

Thankfully we don’t have to guess. When Jesus asked what the greatest command is, his famous answer still challenges and inspires us today: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

I really appreciate passages like this in Scripture. It’s nice when someone can take immense concepts and boil them down to their essence. There’s a whole Subreddit called r/ELI5 (Explain Like I’m Five). Strip away the jargon and the insider-baseball talk. Assume I don’t know anything.

Paul’s “ELI5” moment to a very confused and wandering church in Corinth is this: “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

This comes right at the end of the “Love Chapter.” Paul’s letter to Corinth was all about what it means to be the body of Christ, followers of Jesus in community with each other.

To follow Christ is to live by faith, trusting in God, relying on the power of the Spirit in our lives, and actively growing in our knowledge of Jesus. But there will be a “day when the faith becomes sight.”

To follow Christ is to be hope-full — hoping that God will enact his will “on earth as it is in heaven.” That justice will be carried out. That mercy will be extended. That we will live into God’s promises both now and forever more. But one day, that hope will be filled, “for who hopes for what they already have?”

To follow Christ is to overflow with love — love for God, love for neighbor, love for self, love for the Body of Christ. This love is a self-sacrificing love, a love that is on par with the love of Christ for his disciples, and indeed the whole world. And guess what — this love never ends. This love existed before creation and will endure into eternity, because the greatest of these is love.