In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. Paul writes this:
If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains
but do not have love,
I am nothing.
And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient,
love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful,
is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish,
is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.
But as for prophecies, they will come to an end;
as for languages, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.
But when the perfect comes,
the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part,
but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13 is a profound chapter of a letter to a group of Christians that Paul had a troubled relationship with. Think about it, we would not have had this chapter of the Bible, without the wild and crazy Corinthians. These are some declarations and admonitions, starting with thoughts on love, then thoughts or tips about various and sundry things; and ending with thoughts about practical living in Christ.
- Love is the bedrock of life.
- If we do not love, we are not in the faith.
- So always ask yourself, “How am I loving?”
- “The first duty of love is to listen.” -Paul Tillich
- Have you learned the HALT thing? When you find yourself crashing, ask yourself:
- Am I hungry?
- Am I angry?
- Am I lonely?
- Am I tired?
- Sometimes, you just forgot to eat.
- Remember that anger is a secondary emotion that usually follows hurt that needs expression- express your hurt- tell someone, tell God. “Blessed are those who mourn”. Have your wake, your funeral, and memorial. Do your grief work. Feel the hurt
- If you’re lonely, reach out to someone who also might be lonely or go to a meeting where there is life, or go to an activity. Reading a book maybe. Let God embrace you in your loneliness and know that God is lonely for you.
- Be in touch with your tiredness and become a rest fanatic, being fierce about getting your rest. Resting is spiritual activity that places our trust in God, humbles us and makes us gracious!
- Knowledge is not our identity
- Leading with knowledge creates self-righteousness that lacks love.
- Love that loves God, then loves people, then loves knowledge, results in a life of compassion, humility, mercy, and wisdom.
- True knowledge, or knowledge of truth, is found in relationship to the person who is the truth.
- Much of our Christian culture today is a cult of knowledge and we think that is what the Christian life is all about: knowledge, how much you know, what you know, and imparting knowledge to others through teaching.
- But the Christian life is really about love and transformation.
- Knowledge is not part of Christ-like character or godliness as described by the fruit of the Spirit.
- Being with other Christians was never supposed to be for gaining knowledge, but for mutual edification and encouragement.
- We take the stories of teaching in the early church and use them to say that this is what the church is about, but these stories illustrate new believers getting intensely taught. And the trouble today is that most of us never progress past that or are not allowed to by our teachers, because they are not teaching how Jesus taught, and not equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.
- Yes, the people who are the ones ‘in front’ have the job of equipping (training) the rest of the people to do the ministry.
- Preaching is something done to non-believers, ‘out there’.
- Speaking before a group of Christians is to be a training session, that should always have a ‘lab’, ‘practicum’, or ‘clinic’; that follows the lecture, talk, presentation, or story-telling.
- God accepts us as we are today: rough and tumble.
- We do not have to get cleaned up or learn how to talk right to come to God.
- We come to God ‘as is’ and in the process of the relationship, we are transformed.
- All transformation comes through our relationship with God.
- God’s relationship with us is tested, borne, built, and revealed through every circumstance of our lives.
- Our faith is always being tested and refined, because faith is something that lives and grows.
- If it is not living and growing, it is not faith; but mental assent.
- The opposite of faith is not uncertainty or doubt.
- True faith contains doubt, uncertainty, curiosity, questions, bafflement, and perplexity;
- on a path of humility and meekness.
- We teach faith that is based on the love relationship.
- Our faith is not based on certainty alone,
- but on the faithfulness of our beloved.
- The bedrock of the faith is love.
- God has always been the missionary God.
- All Christians were always meant to all be missionaries.
- The people of God and the mission of God have always been interwoven.
- God never called us to go into the world and build churches.
- Church planting in the book, was about evangelism and discipleship, which are both about people’s lives being changed by God; and has nothing to do with a physical building.
- Is not just another program.
- Is not a sermon series.
- Is not a slogan that becomes reality by tagging your church with it.
- It happens through ordinary Christians, one with another; sometimes in trios, quartets, quintets, and octets.
- Any church serious about discipleship, will stop having ‘the sermon’, being the centerpiece of their gatherings; because lectures are the least productive way of learning and sermons promote the cult of the guru, or sage.
- Saying “we are a church of disciples”, while having ‘the sermon’ as the centerpiece of your gatherings is disingenuous, schizophrenic, and cowardly.
Jesus has left the building
- The church Jesus has always been building is not the church building.
- Just like in his earthly life, Jesus is primarily outside the building.
- Jesus is in the nations, wanting to save the people there, who do not know him yet.
- Jesus is at every Christian’s home door, wanting come in and have meals with us.
- The church is God’s vehicle for changing the world, which means outside the buildings we meet in.
- Jesus never called his followers to build churches or structures to meet in, but to love each other and to teach others about him, on their turf.
- Going to church or inviting unsaved people to church, is unheard of in the Bible.
- What would you do if there were no church buildings and you could no longer drive miles to a group that meets in someones home?
- The answer to that question is what Jesus and the NT and whole Bible instruct you to do.
- Go out into your neighborhood or walk up and over the hill to the next farms.
- Preach the good news of Jesus by being the good news.
- Love each other.
- Heal the sick.
- Cast out demons.
- Feed the poor.
- Weep with those who weep and laugh with who who laugh.
- Let your neighbors share their food and homes with you.
- Listen to other peoples stories.