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Corinthians 13:1 The Gift of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
What is love?
No, seriously, what is love?
Pretend you are a visitor from Mars and listen to “love songs” on the radio. What would you surmise love is?
Watch TV or a movie. What is the depiction of love in Hollywood?
It is interesting that Paul says more the Corinthians about what love is not than he says about what love is. Why is that do you think?
Maybe love is not what you think, actually. Perhaps we are all in love with the idea we have of love, but real love, the kind Paul is talking about, is more about doing than thinking.
It might help to remember that the church in Corinth, to whom this letter is addressed, was a mess mostly because it was filled with people who were convinced that they thought they knew they were right. Which also meant that they thought they knew everyone else was wrong. It is in that context that Paul says in effect, “Even if you are 100% right but do not have love you are just a screen blowing in the wind,” (my paraphrase!).
So maybe the question is always first, “What is love?,” or “What is it to love here and now?” What is it to love in a church that is dangerously close to splitting? What is it to love in a family where the others are driving you crazy? What is it to love yourself, even if you can never seem to get it?
I didn’t say it would be easy. But then again Paul says that there is nothing more important than figuring it out what it is to love right here and right now. But he also gives us a hint that love is not an achievement for perfecting a skill or an honor that we earn by trying hard, but it is a spiritual gift. Which means that it is a gift from God. It is first of all the gift of being loved with patience, kindness, gentleness and forgiveness—completely as we are right now. Maybe it is only when we deeply know we are loved that we are then able to love.
First John says, “God is love.” So, what is it to love?
Thanks to everyone who commented on last week’s blog on the Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church Facebook page.