Stroll through Scripture for May 5, 2024

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

“Love is patient.  Love it kind…”.  If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard this passage.  In fact, it’s a passage of Scripture that even non-church people have familiarity with because of its frequent use in weddings.  And while it makes for a nice wedding passage due to the message, Paul didn’t write it thinking about a wedding.  

Paul wrote several letters to the church in Corinth.  The church was an example of the problems that churches would always face, because churches involve people.  So much of our problems in churches hasn’t changed over these 2000 years, it’s just specifics and the names of the people involved that changes.  Paul’s letter addresses many of the challenges that the early church faced – often challenges around order and control.  But he doesn’t address them in the way that we would expect him to.  

The Lutheran Study Bible has this to say about 1 Corinthians: “The structure of 1 Corinthians reflects Paul’s strategy of replacing displays of social status with love.”  (Pg. 1875).  The paragraph goes on to say that Paul ridicules power and claims Christ crucified as real power, redefines leadership, attacks privilege and praises love. 

In Chapter 12 Paul talks about spiritual gifts and that there is one body and many members.  And it is from this that we move into Chapter 13’s prose.  Paul ends Chapter 12 in a way that sets the reader up to take in what he is about to say – “But strive for the greater gifts.  And I will show you a still more excellent way.”  (vs. 31).  And what is that way?   Love.  Paul lays out what love is.  

And when you move to Chapter 14 you hear Paul apply what he was just talking about related to prophecy and speaking in tongues.  

I often remember hearing at some point that you can take the word “love” in Chapter 13 and replace it with “God,” and you end up with a great description of the character of God.  And that shouldn’t be a shock since we often claim that God is love.  And so a description of love is also a description of God.   

Questions for Reflection:

  • How does power and privilege continue to get in the way of love?  
  • How might Paul’s vision of love apply to the church today?  Our society? 
  • Where have you seen this vision of love lived out?  

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