Monday, July 3, 2017

The greatest of these

1 Corinthians 13:
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

God is love.  He is the source of all light and goodness.  He is the spring that all love comes from.  Time and time again in the scriptures He shows us this.  Time and time in the scriptures He asks us, because we were made in His image, to be that to all people. 

No matter how clearly, we know, can explain, live by doctrines-if we don’t love it comes to nothing.
No matter how clean our liturgy is, particular we are about crossing the Ts and dotting the I-if we do not love it is a hollow gong. 
No matter the spiritual gifts we can claim and parade around-if do not love we are dry bones.

What is love though?  In our modern mind, it’s pink and red hearts with roses and vanilla marshmallows candy coated in chocolate.  It’s a fade to black scene of passion.  It’s FEELINGs that carry us away.  While those things can be love, it’s not the root of what love is at the real heart.   

God commands us to love our enemies as ourselves. (Matt 5:44, Luke 6: 27-28, Luke 6:35, Romans 12: 17-21)  There is nothing pink hearted and fluffy vanilla emotions about that.  It seems like an impossible ask, if your concept of love is limited to this very shallow notion. 

So, what is this love God wants us to practice, that is of Him, and helps us fulfill both our scriptural obligations and the fact that we are created in His image (just to remind you)?  It seems to me, through Christ’s example, that while love can be/cause emotion, the love we need to practice is a choice.  Yes, to be completely unromantic, love is a choice we make. 

To choose constantly and consistently to do the next right thing.  It’s helping people who wouldn’t help you without strings or repayment.  It’s a sacrifice to people who would not only not sacrifice for you probably won’t be grateful or notice it was a sacrifice.  It’s staving your tongue when harsh words would seem more instantly gratifying.  It’s not holding a sign of protest, but being a sign of light.  It’s not an adjective of emotion, but a verb of action taken not out of malice or judgement, but of compassion and empathy.  We can’t fix this worlds’ issues with the same kind of actions and thinking that created them.  Jesus knew this.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a 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.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When I was a child, I prayed to be wise.  As I attained wisdom I realized it’s futility and vanity, I prayed a new prayer.  God, let me be Your love in this world. 
It’s a lot less self-serving and a whole lot more God-serving.  It’s a less about being me, even a better version of me, and more about being more like Him.  I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but I know I won’t if I don’t try.  Look around, we could all use a little more of His love because His love is the only thing that changes anything. 

Just some food for thought and prayer…

Here I am, Lord, send me. 

Lisa Brandel