Greetings! Valentine’s Day is almost upon us.
Today I would like to talk with you about the most famous New Testament writing on love. This writing is so famously associated with love that it is often read at weddings.
I refer is the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. It is a chapter that, appears, to be dedicated to the romantic notion of love.
But not so fast. I fear that I will burst some well-intentioned bubbles.
Paul wrote the letter to the church at Corinth, a church that was in conflict. Imagine that, a church in conflict!
The church at Corinth was in conflict over a variety of issues mostly having to do with gifts and their exercise. It seems that people were in conflict over their gifts. Some thought that their gifts were better than all other gifts.
You may not have experienced conflict in the church. Sadly, it’s not that uncommon. Some might say that church conflict is rather routine. Sometimes church conflict is over doctrine, tradition, interpretation, and the like. Other times, the conflict is over the same (toxic) people who are always in conflict with someone.
Paul starts 1 Corinthians 13 by talking of the importance of love over all other gifts. Paul continues by speaking of the attributes of love. Finally Paul speaks of the constancy of love.
Paul even goes so far as to proclaim that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Paul is trying to get people to focus on love first before anything else.
Paul speaks of the importance of love over prophecies, tongues, and knowledge. Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 13 by saying that faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
What does Paul say for us today? He says that all faith is based upon love. When Jesus was asked, he said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus goes on to encourage that we love even our enemies.
This is quite powerful, especially the idea that the love chapter is written to a church in conflict with itself. As such, the chapter can speak to us in our conflict with each other and ourselves.
In our marriage and in our lives our focus is to be on love: for God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our neighbors.
Love, love, love.
Love is never about who is better. Love is never about power or control. Love is about love!
Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on February 11, 2022
Married 26 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting