When she heard 1 Corinthians 13 for the first time, a friend asked, “That’s in the Bible?” “Absolutely,” I replied. “It’s rather well-known.” “Wow,” she said, “I never would have thought.” Upon hearing this, my first reaction was, “Where’ve you been all your life?” But after further reflection, this exchange highlighted a flaw in our common understanding.
We imagine love as personal, and personalized; we don’t think of a person as love. 1 John says “God is love,” and that sounds pleasant. We then distinguish between God being love and love not being a god, which has some theological and philosophical import: we want orthodoxy. Worship God alone, and know that He is love, or loving. That makes more sense, right? Because we want to focus on God, and not just on love. But there’s the rub.
My friend missed what she did because we all think thusly. We look at love and see an idea, a feeling, and in our loftiest moments, a commitment. Poems, songs, novels and movies have solidified such thinking. Yet John the apostle says love is an actual person. That runs counter to our thinking, and even if it didn’t we certainly wouldn’t think of the Bible’s God as love.
Our readings of the Old Testament focus on war and wrath, and not on the pain of God’s unrequited love.
Yet the scriptures plead this case: God Himself is love, and when we read with fresh eyes, we see that Jesus personifies love more than anything we’ve yet seen. Try substituting the name “Jesus” each time you read “love” in 1 Corinthians 13. The alignment stuns and then resonates. “Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus is not jealous or boastful; he is not arrogant or rude…”
People from all backgrounds and faiths hold something akin to affection for Jesus. Could it be that what they find in Jesus, his life, and his words coincides with their own experiences of love? Perhaps what we secretly desire when we speak of love is the presence and person of Jesus?
We’ve mentioned that the purpose of life and each life resides in love. C.S. Lewis said he was startled to discover that the universe’s center existed not in some place, but in a person. If so, then purpose comes together in love and person. We find purpose in love, and we find love in Jesus. His invitation to follow him now grows exceedingly attractive. “Come and see” is a summons to step into our life’s purpose, into love, into a life with Jesus.
What comes to mind as I consider love?
What do I see when I look at Jesus? How do his words affect me?
How would following Jesus’ teachings impact my life?
© Revolworks 2019