Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To Corinth with love

I seem to remember Michael Green once wrote a book on 1 Corinthians with this as its title. Certainly, love is central to this letter.

I've been writing a series of little studies for the Jesus Army on 1 Corinthians and here are my thoughts on the closing chapter of this wonderfully varied correspondence, with its unifying strand of the call to 'agape' love.

If love is central to this letter, it is also central to this closing chapter: 'Let all that you do be done in love'.

Love is practical, not just a fine feeling, but worked out in actions. Paul spells out his plans for financial sharing between (mainly wealthy) Greek Christians and (mainly poor) Judean Christians. This is partly so that there may be equality, but also reflects Paul’s wider concern for unity between Jew and Gentile in Christ.

Love is personal, not just a concept, but about real people. The Corinthians, with their love of impressive speakers, were to receive Paul’s co-worker Timothy with respect, even though he sometimes lacked confidence. And devotion to Paul was not to prevent loyalty to God’s other workers.

Love is plainspoken, not soft or sentimental, but straight-talking: 'If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!' True love for Jesus will love what He loves and long for His coming. Paul ends by expressing his love for the Corinthians: a love that will be sorely tested (as 2 Corinthians shows) but will survive – perhaps by grace alone!

Searching questions linger after reading: How freely do I share my money and possessions with fellow Christians who are in need? How committed am I to working out relationships, with respect and without partiality? And perhaps (for me at any rate) most searching of all: how honest, how straight-talking - how real - is my love?


Colin said...

As with almost everything in the Christian life, it starts with humility. The humility of love that expresses itself in kindness and service. The humility of accepting a message from God stripped of intellectualism and clever speaking. The humility that refrains from judging others, accepting it's own unworthiness. The humility that rejects all self capabilities and depends only on the resources of God. Relationships of all kinds flourish when nurtured by humility and fail when self and pride are present.

normal said...

Like it Colin. I notice humility is quite a theme for you. Would you like to write a short piece on humility for Jesus Life?