United to Love
March 21, 2016 — 1 Corinthians 13:4–13
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
It is a false dichotomy to present the life of the believer as one of obedience or one of love. There has been an ongoing debate as of late regarding whether or not we are putting too much emphasis on grace, too much emphasis on obedience, too much emphasis on love. All of these claims assumes that we are creating God in our image in order to live out a life that is better than the alternative. I fear that focusing on the attributes of God that are over emphasized misses the point.
The life of the Christian is not one of motivation, but rather one of unification. We miss the point of what it means for us to be one with our Savior. Holy Week has begun, and it is easy for us to use this time to reflect on the amazing gift that we have been given in Christ, it is easy for us to consider the amazing terror and agony that He would have gone through on our behalf, but it is going to be lacking if we don’t think of that life as being ours.
When we are saved from our sins we are not saved to a life that is able to be lived sinlessly, but rather saved to the perfectly lived life of Christ — the life of love. When we think that love is a virtue, we miss the point of why Paul is going on and on explaining to the Corinthians about what this love is. Most of us don’t need to have love explained to us. We understand the human experience of passion, closeness, loyalty, protection — all the attributed to love. But love is much more than biology. Love is a person, and if we are believers, we are united to this Love.
When Paul says that love is patient and kind, he is describing the person of Christ; he is explaining God revealed to us. Our love for others isn’t supposed to match up to this list just because it is in the Bible and it says so, it is because these attributes of love are the realities of who Christ is. Christ lived the perfect life on earth in order to atone humanity to God. He bound together the skin, blood, and bone of mankind to the love of God.
While we are living on earth, we are going to be constantly reminded of our sharing in all of the inheritance of Christ. That is why the Spirit gives us gifts freely. It is not about super powered Christians, but blessed Children of God. We are given Him! The gifts of the Spirit are beautiful and mysterious advancements of the Spirit to the body of Christ. The reason these gifts will one day pass away is because one day the body of Christ will be in perfect union. Now we see in part, but soon we will see in full. Our faith, our hope last while we need it, but when we finally see our groom face to face, all who will remain is Jesus. Love.