Okay, this is just too good to pass up. I came across it in Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love (which I’ve used as inspiration before.)
So we all know the verse from 1 Corinthians about love – it’s used at nearly every Christian wedding, quoted all over the place, you know the drill. But here is how we can read it with new meaning.
We are all called by God to love, right? It is the most important thing we can do, and all else follows from it. Paul writes that if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2) Did you catch that? We can have all faith, all good intentions, and basically be doing everything “right,” but if we don’t do it out of a place of love – if we are not actively loving – then we are nothing. If we fail at this, we aren’t just in trouble or disappointing God – we are literally reduced to nothing. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty crappy to me. I want to at least be SOMEthing.
Anyways, back to the task at hand – the verse you hear on everyone’s big day. Here’s your job. I want you to read this with new eyes. Pretend that this is the first time you’ve ever seen these words. And, one more thing. For every time the verse says “Love,” I want you to switch it out for your name. Read it out loud, substituting it every single time. For the sake of this, I’m going to put in “You.”
“You are patient and kind; you do not envy or boast;
You are not arrogant or rude.
You do not insist on your own way;
You are not arrogant or resentful;
You do not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice at truth.
You bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.
You never end…Faith, Hope, and You abide, these three;
But the greatest of these is You.”
If we are called to BE love (and we are!) then this passage must ring true for us. If you can read the above and feel confident that you are not lying through your teeth, then you’re on your way! It’s not supposed to be easy – this exercise is drawn from Chan’s book and definitely serves as a wake-up call.
There is solace, and that is the understanding that living this way is definitely not easy. But, “it must be central to everything we do and are.”
Chan phrases it nicely like this – the imaging definitely helped me. “We are on a never-ending downward escalator. In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward…Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It’s not a label we can display when it is useful.”
I think it’s an effective way to take a good long look at ourselves and where we truly stand on this journey to loving the world the way we are called to. When you can make it through the verses putting your first name in (“Christina is patient…”) and get through it without feeling like Pinocchio, then you’ve got yourself on a good path. I know that for me, it’s a good temperature check daily to see how I’m doing. Think of it like a checklist or rubric for the day. At the end of your day, if you had to grade yourself on how you did in the areas of patience, kindness, envy, arrogance, and more, it may be a report that you don’t want to read. But with the awareness and hard work, it can become a report card that is worthy of being posted on the fridge. Let’s work to get there, together. (And remember, “You are patient” — even when it comes to this challenge!)
Verse for the night: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Galatians 5:13-14