When she heard 1 Corinthians 13 for the first time, a friend asked, “That’s in the Bible?” “Absolutely,” I replied. “It’s rather well-known.” “Wow,” she said, “I never would have thought.” Upon hearing this, my first reaction was, “Where’ve you been all your life?” But after further reflection, this exchange highlighted a flaw in our common understanding.
Have you ever made a major life change, and then found yourself in a less-than-ideal situation? Your new boss has a screw loose. Your new neighbors don’t have nearly the same funny friend-group potential of your last ones. Your new lunch buddies are stiff and boring compared to your last workplace. The task or location itself was an upgrade, but the people that came with it are a bummer.
Jesus is God, and God is Love. So if we replace “love” with “Jesus” in this passage from the Apostle Paul, here is what we get (English Standard Version):
What does love look like? Buying your wife flowers on a whim? Loaning your car to a friend in need?
Jenny hunches over the crib, using her hands to spread her eyes wide so they’re comically large. “I’m gonna give myself wrinkles before my time,” she whispers as she contorts her eyebrows up and stretches her cheeks into a fish-face, wiggling her fingers with her thumbs in her ears.
Looking at their track records, Jesus really didn’t do such a great job of picking his followers . . . or did he?
Who really expects love to deliver anymore? We hear the word everywhere, but we also see the reality in the same places.
Viktor Frankl describes the experience of nakedness in Auschwitz, a World War II Nazi concentration camp. When he had nothing – truly nothing – death no longer held fear over him.
Have you seen the protestors who attend the funerals of failed soldiers? Their banner scream, “God hates you!” “You’re going to Hell!”? Thus they protest against government policies they claim God punishes by death in battle. They claim they stand against immorality and godlessness. No one has responded favorably to them or their tactics.
Jesus says God wants to save the world. He then teaches his followers to love one another. That’s his master plan: love. Jesus says the world will know that God sent Jesus if his followers have “complete unity” (John 17:23).
I fail at love. As soon as it costs me something, I check out.
And this is frustrating, because Jesus demands love. That’s really it.
I was seven years old. As my mom bustled around the kitchen cleaning I realized it. What a terrible discovery.
Shocking. Nothing less than this adequately describes Moses’ teaching that Jesus echoed. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Are you kidding?
We thirst for love. Some say we’re deficient without it. The Apostle John says God is love (1 John 4:16). If we’re children of God — or at least cast in his image – and if John is right about God, love should play a key role in our lives.
Why wedding vows? Have you ever considered this? Why does a priest, pastor, or judge ask a man, “Will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?” Why does he ask the man to promise? Is he not in love? Won’t this suffice?
We’re confused. Today, we plan for divorce before we marry. Built-in protections and exits exist in the form of pre-nuptial agreements, safeguards of one’s property in the likely event of a divorce. Above all, the thinking says, me first.
Parents will tell you. Just ask them. How does it feel when your children get along with one another? How does it feel when they scream and fight?
Who expects love to deliver anymore? We hear the word everywhere, but we also see the reality in the same places. A girl was asked if she’d go on a date with someone besides the guy she was seeing. She replied, “He’s not my boyfriend, but I don’t want to jeopardize anything.”
Father’s Day: The man gazes at the bluish screen from the slump of his Lazy-Boy. His wife presses a young daughter to tell him that she loves him. She resists, knowing his surly nature and aversion to affection. She approaches, confronting her fear.
Gandhi relays the story of a group of blind men gathered around the elephant. Each touches a different part, one the tail, one the trunk, one the massive body, and another the tusk. Based on their tactile observations, someone asked them, “What is an elephant?”
It was Kansas wheat harvest time, and Austin Mann rose early to pick up his grandson, Tracey. They drove 20 miles south of their hometown Quinter to prepare for the long day’s work. As they approached the land they were about to harvest, Austin noticed a grain truck approaching, with 16-year-old Wesley Miller at the wheel.