1 Corinthians 13
I don’t know how many times I have heard this passage read at weddings – although the passage obviously does talk about love it is not primarily to a newly married couple but mainly aimed at the church – at Christian community. The chapter before this, Paul has talked about spiritual gifts, gifts given by God for his body – the church. He has spent time explaining that the church is a body made up of different people and characters, but he is saying that all of these gifts mean nothing unless they are done out of and in love. Imagine – speaking with the tongues of angels but people just hearing cymbals, being able to prophesise and move mountains but actually that means nothing if that is not motivated by love.
I was chatting to someone at the young adults retreat about our motivations for doing things – we try to serve and put others first but maybe behind this actions are a motivation of searching for recognition of the great deed we have done. But in this passage it tells us that love is not self-seeking. It also says that love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs – does that mean I have to get rid of all the books where I record all the wrong people have done to me?! I can’t be rude either?
This passage gives us a whole different view on things, its completely contrary to what we are told in the world – stand up for yourself, do what suits you, use people for what you can get from them. Love people only if they love you first. But we can only give and share this love if we experience Gods transforming love, if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
So what are your motives today – gaining power and influence? Getting what you can from others? Are you looking to be thanked for the very humble and amazing things you do for others?! If we live this new way, this radical way where actually others come before ourselves – what would Christian community look like?
I had a glimpse of what this looked like at the weekend – I went up to bed on Friday night at the retreat and I was supposed to be sharing a double bed but I got into the room and the two humble, gracious kind gentlemen who were sharing with me chose to sleep in the single bed and on the floor meaning I had the double bed to myself. Putting their needs and desires second meant that although I was last to bed I had the best bed. Thanks lads and thanks God for a very challenging and radical chapter 13! Lets read it outside of weddings too!