Language is alive. It’s fluid – ever changing and adapting at remarkable speed. Words are added, dropped, and meanings revised. In fact, lexicographers add hundreds of new words to English dictionaries every year if they meet certain criteria. They must have relatively widespread use, a widely agreed upon meaning and likely to be used for a long time.
Collins Dictionary has just announced ‘Permacrisis’ as their new word of 2022, meaning a period of instability and insecurity with no foreseeable ending. It’s true we are experiencing crisis upon crisis – a global pandemic; a war with worldwide effects; and unprecedented climate change bringing droughts, fires and floods. Faced with a growing energy crisis and record greenhouse gas concentrations, COP27 issues stark warnings of impending doom. It’s understandable that many are feeling they’re living in a perpetual state of anxiety, because of permacrisis.
How we need something greater, stronger, more stable, more secure, something permanent to soothe fraying nerves. God’s Love is like that. He calms our fears, tells us not to be anxious and fills our hearts with his peace as we trust him. The apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth stresses the permanent nature of Love. He says, ‘Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13). This week I’ve been studying this verse and I’ve discovered an interesting fact. Paul, writing in Greek, emphasises the verb and makes it singular. ‘Remains – faith, hope and love….’, declaring these three virtues to be an inseparable unit.
My word for this year is ‘Permalove’ with faith and hope intrinsic to it. Perhaps we need to think more about the world to come. Surely it won’t be static, but rather dynamic as we explore a world of love in our eternal state. Though we will walk by sight and not by faith, our trust in our Heavenly Father will not cease but grow even stronger. Our hope in Christ may be realised when Jesus returns, but our joyful expectation of adventure will not end. Faith, hope and love will live forever, but without the wavering that we often experience now.
Love is the greatest, for God is eternally love (1 John 4:8). Before creation there was love within the godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was Augustine who pointed out that only a triune God can love, because love cannot exist in a vacuum. The consummation of our salvation will be our growing participation ever more fully into that love relationship as we are immersed and perfected in the fullness of God.
Contrary to the common adage, being heavenly minded will not make us of no earthly use. How we see the future really does affect the way we live now. If faith, hope and love are permanent, to be experienced now and forever, then we will view all of life through this lens and shape our lives according to these certainties. We will pray with more faith and expectancy and love sacrificially with greater assurance that all things are working for our ultimate good and for God’s glory.