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“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Hundreds of thousands of books have been written about this phenomenon we call love. People spend years trying to quantify it, explain it, and box it up into a theory. Yet here St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians puts it quite simply – Love is love. God is love and we are in God and created by Him in His image, therefore our makeup is also that of love. It’s that powerful thing in our lives that we can’t touch or measure it just is.
The image of love we have in 1 Corinthians is one of perfect relationship with God and with those around us, it’s the opposite of every carnal and selfish instinct in which things never feel completely right. It’s the plumb line by which we know whether we are at peace or unsettled.
Unfortunately when we only use one word to describe something so indescribable and intangible we forget that it is a way of life and not just an emotion or sensation we should strive for. Jesus in so many of teachings frustrates the dominance of adhering to the letter of the law over the Spirit. He was pointing to something different, the being. Being a person of love, of grace, of peace and of faith. Not just attempting to do a whole load of actions that we think will get us to a state of doing love but coming so close in relationship with the Lord that it becomes who we are.
The rich young man in Matthew 19 comes to his teacher and says, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” A question we often ask over and over, and constantly feel frustrated that we know there is more and we’re not quite hitting the holiness mark. Jesus’ final response to this enquiring young man of great stature was – let go of all the things that make you who you think you should be – and come and follow me, i.e. come and become my disciple. To be called to be a disciple in the days of Jesus literally meant walking in the dust of your Rabbi, copying him step by step, becoming like him in character and deed. So what Jesus was saying to this seeking man was that your identity needs to be in me (not in your possessions or your status), so come and follow me so that you can become like me.
If we hold to the truth that God is Love and Jesus is God then in order to understand Love we must walk in the dust of the feet of the Rabbi, we must become as Jesus in character and in deed. Knowing that as we build our character we build our habits in life.
Therefore let’s not attempt to explain away love as a set of actions we must perform in order to say one day I now know how to love but rather let us become disciples of Jesus, following Him step by step, absorbing Him, becoming like Him – Him who is love.
May our prayer to become people of love be like that of St Paul to the Ephesians:
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
By Mariam Tadross