It’s very interesting to consider what Paul says here in the final verse of chapter 13. In talking about the gifts that will pass away when we see Jesus face to face, he contrasts them with what will remain even in heaven. He said,
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It’s interesting to me to think that faith will still be a major part of our lives in heaven. After all, we will see God. Is there really going to be a need for faith? I think so, but I get the impression it will be different from what it is here on earth. Here on earth, we still struggle with believing God many times because of our sinful nature. Many times, we believe, but we don’t believe, much like the desperate father in Mark chapter 9. More, it can be tough to believe God when we can’t physically see him or hear him.
But in the face our Father, it will become only natural for us to trust him. When we see his face and the love he has for us, we won’t be able to help but trust him. I just wish things were like that now.
Hope is another thing that seems a little strange in eternity. What are we hoping for? We’ll already have been saved and be in heaven, after all. Hope also, I think, will be somewhat different from hope here on earth. I don’t think it will be a longing for something because of the bitter or difficult circumstances we are going through. Rather, it’s the hope that in the midst of our current joy, things will only continue getting better because we know God is good.
But the greatest of these three, Paul says, is love. Why the greatest? I’m not sure, but maybe one reason is that while faith and hope will remain, they will nevertheless be different.
A large element of what faith is, belief in the unseen (Hebrews 11:1), is taken out as we see God face to face. A large element of hope is, an earnest longing for what we do not have (Romans 8:24), is removed as our greatest hope is fulfilled when we meet Christ face to face. Whatever hopes we may have after that can only pale in comparison to what we have already received in Christ.
But when we reach heaven, nothing is removed from the love that we have for God and others, save for the impurities that permeated our love here on earth. All jealousy, selfishness, pride, and so forth, will be purged out, leaving us a love that is purer, richer, and fuller than we have ever experienced here on earth. I can’t wait for that day.