The way of love (continued).

May 25, 2009

Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge — even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(I Corinthians 1:4-8)

God gave the Corinthians grace.  They were enriched in Christ, in speech and in knowledge.  They were spiritually gifted.

And yet there were divisions among them (1:10), and yet there was quarreling (1:11).  In essence, they responded to blessing with pride and self-inflation rather than humility and pursuit of the common good.

Even for all their knowledge and spiritual giftedness, Paul said to them, “You are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (3:2-3)

If they were of the Spirit, love would have been their crest.  Instead of being engulfed with self-love that leads to jealousy, they would have been compelled by Christ’s love, the love that gives preference to another and rejoices in another’s good.  But instead of love, selfish ambition and pride thrived in their hearts and produced all kinds of strife.

Love, the lifeblood of the body of Christ, was absent.  Without love, the church was nothing more than a corpse — all flesh and no spirit.

Similar to the Corinthians, the Ephesian church was told in Revelation to repent.  Even for all their “works … toil … patient endurance” and discernment, they were told to repent.  Why?

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)

They abandoned love.

Spiritual gifts, knowledge, faith.  The Corinthian and Ephesian churches weren’t wrong to pursue these things.  But they were wrong to forsake love in the process.  They weren’t wrong in pursuing these things, but there was a “still more excellent way” that had been ditched.

The way of love.  The way of the Savior.

Literally, His way led Him from Heaven’s magnificent throne to Bethlehem’s soiled feeding trough.  His way led Him from Heaven’s throne room, where angels cried, “Holy, holy, holy,” in worship, to a servant’s basin and the washing of His disciple’s feet.  His way led Him from giving life, even eternal life, to receiving death on a cross.  His way led Him from a king’s welcome to a via dolorosa.

Scripture never says angels marvel at knowledge or giftedness or anything else.  But Scripture records that the love of God come down to save man from his sins is something into which angels long to look.  They absolutely marvel at this way of love, designed and known by God Himself.  A path forged by His own sweat and blood.

Can we begin to feel the weight of it?  Can we begin to feel the weight of what He means when He says we are to love as He did?

Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14)

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who love might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

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