Not part of the Simple Christianity series, but I feel is very applicable. Take it as you may…
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
I have always thought that this passage referred specifically to love between a man and wife, a romantic love. But recently I have have began to question that line of thought. I mean, I am called to love my neighbor, right? For an example of this love, I just have to look at the Gospel. The love that Jesus exhibited is spelled out here in this passage. The Gospel is filled with the examples of love shown by Jesue…
So I propose that the love the at Paul talks about in 1st Corinthians is not a romantic love that is saved only for a man and a wife, but is the love that as a Christian, needs to be given to all those around them as is instructed in the Gospel….
Let us take a look at the proceeding verses, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 :
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
So life without love, the love that Paul writes about, is a pointless life. Even if I do all these good and compassionate things for the lowest people in society without love, my faith is dead. I mean what is the more Christianese thing to do than to speak in tongue, understand all the hard things of life, and give me wealth to the poor? Paul say pretty boldly, works without love is useless.
If I take 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in this little bit of context, I am constrained to love in the way that Christ did. I do not have to figure out how Jesus love, thanks to Paul. Paul has already summed up what Jesus’s love looks like in a practical attitude.
If you do not believe me, I suggest you take a good look at the Gospels, I suggest book of John then Matthew- look at Jesus’s interaction with the out casts of society and the highest of highest. You can see how Jesus demonstrated this perfect love. For me, it is so easy to discount the outcast of society and and treat those who are the “in crowd” better. Jesus reached out those who were hurting and the discarded of the the society and admonished those who were at the top. He rebuke those who were high in love and reached out those in need in love. Everyone He interacted with, He did so in love.
So, I am called to love- First God, then others. I have told that my life should look like Jesus’s, and He lived a life of love, right?
Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 sums up the attributes of God’s love in a very real way.
So what does this mean for me and the way I live my life? Good question. I ought to be patient and kind to people. Be humble (ie not rude, boastful, proud…). Not holding grudge against those who have wronged me and forgiving those who do wrong me. Love ought to sustain me- it is faithful, hopeful, and perseverance through all things, good and bad. I have been such love, by Jesus and His example that I must show it to those around me.
It is by no way easy to love like Jesus loved. It takes much disciple and dependence not on myself. It it takes a letting go of personal self importance and pride. It takes the act of letting go of control- which is scary as hell.
PS- My summer begins in less than 48 hours, so much left to be done. Eight months of prayer and planning for nine weeks of summer ministry. I am fortunate to closely with people who live and breath for summer ministries. For me I get to see young people learn about servant-hood, experience close Christian community for many times the first time ever, I get to see God work in the live of young adults as they are stretched and challenged in new ways.
Please pray for strength and endurance as summer is flat out sprint. For me, camping ministry it much like climbing a mountain. The fall through spring is like going up the mountain in a slow and steady pace where the incline is soft, building to a climax. Training week is the climax, everyone is fired up and ready to go. Second half the first week of summer arrives and it is a downhill sprint, where you are going full bore and if you are not careful and dependent on God for strength and energy, you will crash and burn hard, not to mention the spiritual warfare that surfaces when you stop focusing on yourself and focus on God. Crazy things happen and we praise God for that.
Sorry for the tangent. 🙂