For Lent this year, we are digging in to I Corinthians 13, what many often call “The Love Chapter.” As we head toward Easter on April 21, it’s a good opportunity to focus on what love is, given that on Easter we celebrate the ultimate act of love in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
We want to extend our “Love is…” sermon series into each week of Lent, so we are hosting Lenten Life Groups, small groups where you can discuss the sermons in more detail. We also have published a Lenten Devotional Guide to help you as you reflect on the season.
You can download a print version of the guide here. We’re also posting each week’s content on Sundays. Published entries are listed in order of publication below.
What I will try to do here is to lift our eyes, yours and mine, beyond the early passages to the place Paul is going in the later part of the chapter and in chapter 14. What’s the big picture here? Love clearly is not something grandiose! It is not some squishy feeling! It is not for our own entertainment. Paul certainly details what it is not.
I Corinthians 13:1-7 is one of those passages that I have heard and read so often that I probably do not really listen to the words as I should, if in fact I ever did. Maybe you aren’t like me… hopefully you aren’t. I chose to reflect on the first part of verse 4. Or maybe God chose it for me because I needed to understand it and apply it to my life in a new way.
Recently one of our visiting clergy at the Hahn Cancer Center made a comment that stuck with me. He said “Instead of being on Facebook, you should have your Face in The Book.” Now I don’t know if he made that up or he heard it somewhere but it made an impression on me.
Imagine being able to see what the disciples saw when they were with Jesus. Imagine the walks, the conversations, the teaching, the adventures. To be honest it is hard for me to imagine but I occasionally put myself in the sandals of the disciples as I read the gospels. I know that scripture is living and want to live it in a way that honors Christ.
We live in a sports-obsessed world where winning, getting our fair share, demanding our “rights” and looking out for ourselves is justified, even admired. Our fortunes — or at least our attitudes — often hinge on whether or not our teams win or whether our perceived needs and wants are fulfilled. But winning is not love and neither is the pride or justification in winning — or even in being right.
Let us be honest with ourselves. When something bad happens to someone you do not like or to an enemy, have you ever thought or said, “this person is getting what he or she deserves. I am glad that this has happened?” When you have these kinds of thoughts, you delight in evil.
That word love always makes you think of romantic ideals, happy things, joyous moments. Here in I Corinthians 13:7, though, Paul throws in a word that seems out of place.