On Sunday, we learned that the Church is a community unlike any the world has ever known. We are automatically enrolled in this community when we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and we belong to it forever. This community has a Courageous Leader who modeled the way in which we are to behave:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
— John 13:34—35
I’ve been thinking about love. I’ve been pondering pastor David Griffin’s bold statement that others will know us by our love, and if they do not recognize us, we are lacking in love. Each person who belongs to this community, the Church, has an important role to fulfill in the Body of Christ. And yet, without love, none of the giftings make one bit of difference.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:1—3
I’m not on social media, but I see this lack of love when I am out and about in my community. It seems that often these days, people are AT one another. And sometimes, I feel animosity welling up in my own heart and mind as I observe others making different choices than I make. And so, I am offering a little love check-in for those who are willing. This exercise isn’t my idea. It’s been around for quite a while, but it never hurts to revisit it, especially in these divisive times. This activity is brought to you by the Apostle Paul, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, obediently penned the following words:
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.
— 1 Corinthians 13:4—7
When I replace the word “love” with my own name in this passage, how do I feel in my gut? What recent instances come to my mind? Where am I falling short? “Crystal is patient and kind.” Am I? When have I not been? What kept me from embodying patience and kindness in that moment? “Crystal does not boast. She is not arrogant or rude.” Has that been fully true? If not, what was in me that prompted me to act counter to love? “Crystal does not insist on her own way.” Ugh. Like a gut punch. What was going on when my own opinion became a hill I seemed willing to die on? “Crystal is not irritable or resentful.” When I am stressed or hormonal, is this what people see? And on it goes.
I invite you, my courageous brother or sister in Christ, to engage in this little love check-in for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I need to course-correct sometimes. We who have trusted Christ are a part of a community that exists eternally. Eternity is an unfathomably long time to get along with others who can bring out our ugly sides. Nevertheless, by his grace and for his glory, we can be people who love one another well. Let’s recommit ourselves to that love today.