A friend recommended a book to me called When Christians Get It Wrong by Adam Hamilton. I found it reflected my own sentiments when it comes to some of the hot topic issues and it was nice to read that I’m not all alone in my stance that my only duty and joy as a Christian is to love. With the social and political atmosphere these days, I really needed that affirmation. It seems simple enough—all I have to do is love and I’m good. But how am I to love? And who?
Do I even really know what that unassuming four-letter word means? I love my family and friends. I love sparkly jewelry and I absolutely love pizza even if it doesn't love me! I love poetry and music and often walk out of the theater exclaiming my love for the movie I’ve just seen. I love my new dark rinse jeans and I love even better how they make me look!! I love ideas and I love lazy Saturdays in my pajamas. I say it a lot! But for all that, I am hard-pressed to come up with an actual definition. The dictionary isn’t much help either as it provides numerous meanings making it difficult to pin down what love really is.
1 John tells us that God is love. God = love. That means that if I can understand love better, than I will know God better. This of course led me to that most famous bible passage on love—1 Corinthians 13. So over the next few weeks, I am going to take a closer look at this all too familiar passage and invite you on the journey.
We often hear it read at weddings but this passage wasn’t originally meant as advice to couples on how to live together. It was advice from a pastor to his church. Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth teaching the infant church there, giving them a firm foundation in their faith to allow them to continue to grow and mature after he left, and in his absence, things had pretty much fallen apart. Cliques formed separating the church into factions. The Corinthians slid back into some nasty moral habits and their gatherings had less to do with worshiping God and more to do with attaining individual religious status and prestige in the pursuit of supernatural spiritual gifts. These words are Paul’s advice to a local congregation on how to interact with each other.
The passage starts out in the last sentence of chapter 12 which says “and now I will show you the most excellent way.” That’s what I want—the most excellent way to interact with my brothers and sisters in faith and with every human. I want to know love well enough to be able to define it, because then I feel as though I will really grasp the meaning of the word that is the very nature of God whom I want to know and emulate.
Next week: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3