In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says that when God’s peace in Christ becomes complete in God’s world faith, hope, and love will remain. So, these three are the essential qualities for people to embody and practice now.
But the world isn’t anywhere near filled with Christ’s peace yet. In this world, faith can be misplaced, hope disappointed, and love betrayed.
So, our best qualities are vulnerable, as are we. As is Jesus as well. Think of Christ at the Last Supper talking of his losing his body and blood and knowing his friends will desert him.
In this world, we’re all called to live out faith, hope, and love. This means realizing each of us is vulnerable – no exceptions. That’s hard to do, especially in a culture that plays on our fears and worships brute power.
But, there it is, nonetheless.
A woman I knew in high school still lives in Houston. She’s a successful author and CEO, and she was in the middle of leading a training session with other high-powered corporate executives when she got a call.
The call informed her the Jewish Community Center housing her child’s preschool was under a bomb threat. She’s not Jewish.
Instantly, despite her status and success, she had to grapple with her own vulnerability, the vulnerability of her child, and the vulnerability of a religious minority she doesn’t even belong to.
On Ash Wednesday, Christians are reminded we’re all vulnerable. From dust we’ve come; to dust we’ll return. We’re also reminded the greatest gift is love, and love cannot be shared today without leaning into our vulnerability.
In a world that wants us to hate and dominate, what if instead we connected with others through our shared vulnerability? That might bring us close to the love of God itself.