Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 5, 2018  

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

This past weekend Jeanne and I drove down to Rockford, IL for the wedding of one of my nieces, a wedding I was asked to preach at. The text the couple marrying selected was from 1 Corinthians 13.

They selected what is commonly known as the “love chapter.” St. Paul wrote these words a long time ago to the congregation he started in Corinth. The members of his congregation weren’t getting along so well. They were bickering about a few different things. What they were bickering about isn’t that important to us. What is important is Paul’s answer, Paul’s solution to the bickering.
P
aul’s answer was to write about love—not just any kind of love, about the kind of love that comes from God.

Every marriage needs God’s love if that marriage is to succeed. But God’s love isn’t limited to marriage. God’s love is received by each of us as individuals. God’s love is a gift God gives us that permeates every relationship we have—or at least it ought to.

The first thing to know about God’s love is that it comes from God and it isn’t yours. God’s love is not just for you. The love that we share in our marriages, or in our families, or in our friendships, or in our work places… that love didn’t originate in our hearts, it was given to our hearts as a gift from God. The love we receive flows into us from God, and now flows through us to each other, and then
Again to others we are in relationship with.

Which points us to the second thing we need to know about the love we share.  Because it comes to us as a gift from God, it isn’t meant for only us; God’s love isn’t ours to hoard. The love we receive is a love that is a gift given that is given to be shared. So not only does it flow into our hearts and out again, to spouses or children or other loved ones—God’s love is a gift that is meant to be shared with everyone needing it. We are called to share God’s love with friends. You are called to share God’s love with family. We are called to share God’s love with strangers who for whatever reason need to know or feel loved.

Look around at the marriages you see that work best, at the families that function well, to the congregations that are active and joyful. I’m guessing most of those

Relationships or communities work the way they do, not because the marriage couple only has eyes for each other, or the family loves each other, or the church cares for each other– but  because the couple knows the love they share is way bigger than the two of them. And the family knows the love they have is meant to live beyond the doors of their home. And the congregation knows the love they share is meant to flow outwards, not back in on themselves. And so they share God’s love, not just with each other but also with others.

The worst way to approach a marriage is to ask:
What’s in it for me?
The best way to approach a marriage is to ask:
What’s best for you (the other person in the marriage)?

The worst way to approach a family is to ask:
What’s in it for us?
The best way to approach a family is to ask:
What’s best for every member, and then for all the people we encounter as we live our lives outside of our home?

The worst way to approach being a church is to ask:
What’s in it for us?
Again, the best way to approach being a church is to ask:
What’s can we do for our neighborhood, for our community, for the world?

God has given us a great gift. A gift of love.
Don’t hold onto it tightly, let that love live.
Let God’s love grow. Share God’s love. Share God’s love with each other.
Share God’s love with those you love most.
Share God’s love with the world.

Thanks be to God for the love we have received.
Amen.