Friday, November 30, 2012
"1 Corinthians 13 – Love”, 11” x 14”, colored pencils.
Let us suppose for the sake of illustration that there was a perfect Christian – of course there never will be one, only Christ was perfect. However, let us suppose there was one. This chapter stresses in a very emphatic way that even if that were the case in the utmost of striving, unless we have love we literally have nothing. We are as a clanging symbol. Just noise. That is a compelling statement from the text.
Love in today’s society is very distorted. On the one hand, it is often portrayed as sensual desire or a mask for lust. On the other, as a noble heartfelt emotion. Yet love is not just a feeling, a romantic notion, or an easygoing attitude. True love is far from easy. For love is a sacrificial act. A reaching out in genuine care for others. An action or attitude within ourselves to continually deny destructive impulses or behavior and instead bless others. This last part in myself I find the deepest struggle. So often I see within the impulses of selfishness that literally wage war against love. Jesus spoke of loving those who hate us, who seek or even cause us harm. This is indeed sacrificial love. As we seek to humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father, love becomes a behavior to live in graciousness and humbleness in relation to others.
Jesus expressed a profound love in everything He did. It was not mere emotion or sentiments. It was a sacrificial, forgiving, merciful, unfailing, and patient love. A love of compassionate grace that is very profound in its sublimity. In the gospels we see His love was ever ready to heal and bless, ever near and very intimate, as it is in our lives today as He cares for us each day. His greatest act of love was to take our sin on Himself and die for us. It is life changing transforming love in the deepest core of our needs and hurts.
How hard it is to truly love! In our day to day experience we often may not feel the emotion or affection of love. Here again, it must be stressed the misconception we hold that love is solely an emotional state or feeling. In actuality we may many times be churned up with a whole host of negative feelings for a whole host of reasons. This is precisely where God moves us to act in love, in spite of feelings we may struggle with.
We therefore see in the words and truths expressed in this chapter of the Bible a transformed way of living. A way of living that really can only come by Christ’s work in us. In the passage just before chapter 13 we read “and yet I show you a more excellent way”. This excellent way – love - is central to the two most important things we are to do as God’s children. To love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And to love our neighbors as ourselves. What a blessing and relief to know that we do not have to manufacture love ourselves, but as we seek Him daily in our lives and read His Word, He works this within us.
In a conclusion of that which is related in chapter 13, Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians begins with the words “pursue love”. I know in myself in almost every area of my life I need to be touched and healed this way. I so often think I know what is right, that I must have my own way. My way of expressing that can sometimes be in a blunt instrument kind of mentality to the very ones I love the most. How marriage brings to light the deepest parts that need repentance! I can not love this great love in myself. Yet I long for it so very deeply. I know even this longing comes from our loving Father Himself, as every perfect gift comes from Him. This longing is the personal motivation behind this work. The Bible chapter itself and what it conveys is of utmost importance and a lifetime continual goal in our wonderful walk in God's awesome, beautiful love. If we continually seek to see and know the bottomless love of God in Christ Jesus, He promises to fill us and mold us.