Tuesday, August 4, 2015

And the Greatest of These is Love

Image by Pippalunacy
If I speak in tongues of men but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

The enormity of the importance of these verses is often lost because of the frequency with which they are quoted.  We read bits of this passage on mugs.  We see it on calendars and hang it on our walls.  It is read at weddings.  As Christians, we hold this scripture dear, but I think we hold it on the surface.

Can you hear what Paul is saying here?  We know in part, we prophesy in part.  Everything we know and understand is one day going to pass away.  That theology we hold dear, the doctrine we just can't let go of.  It's all going to slip away when eternity replaces the temporal.

Don't misread me.  We need our theology and our doctrines because we need explanation and meaning.  These are the things which lead us to God.  These are the things that allow us to have a relationship with the undefinable, indescribable God.  God is reachable because of these frameworks of doctrine.  But let us not confuse the frameworks with God.  God is bigger and better and greater and more love than anything we could ever create.

Love, the greatest of all things, the the thing that supersedes all that we know and are, that is the thing for which we ought to strive.

But truth….

In my few years on this planet I have been preoccupied with discovering truth.  Truth is important.  Yet I know that love is all the more.  In my imperfection, may I choose love that I might please the one for whom I was created to love.  May I choose this thing that will remain even when other things pass away.

Love is elusive, yet love never fails.

God is love.

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