“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV)
Inevitably, when I meet with couples to officiate at their wedding, they choose 1 Corinthians 13 as the scripture passage. It’s a great choice. It’s also not about marriage – at least not only marriage. Ultimately, it’s about relationships beginning with God’s love for us and how we are called to live that love out in our own relationships.
We can even go one step further. The description of love here in 1 Corinthians 13 comes in the middle of Paul’s teachings to the Corinthian church about how they are called to be the Body of Christ and to use their gifts to further the work of Christ in the world. Having this teaching smack in the middle of a church that is divided over who is better than someone else or whose gifts are more important is a brilliant way to teach about what the love of Jesus really is and how we are to model it in the church and in the world.
Of course, this is not an easy prescription to follow! Think about it: “Love is patient (first major challenge!); love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Oops – how many of us can say that we have followed these teachings? Well, Jesus did, and that is the goal for us. Maybe if more marriages, friendships, families, churches, countries, governments, or whomever we might name incorporated the love of God as described in this passage, we would have a much better world.
The Church of Jesus Christ can be an example for promoting harmony, good will, conflict management, and bringing the Light of Christ into the world wherever they are. “Love never ends” happens because God’s love is eternal and the source of all love, kindness, compassion, and caring.
Maybe we should read this passage every day and keep a diary about how we are doing. Or maybe it would be good to have a yearly bible study on this chapter in 1 Corinthians as a reminder to the church folks that we carry the responsibility to bring Christ to the world through our own choices and the way we share God’s love with others.
In what ways have you shared God’s love?
Where can you be more consistent?
How will you keep working at it?