The Big Three
1Corinthians 13: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I firmly believe all God’s Word is inspired but some of it inspires me more than other parts. This is such a passage. Paul rises to new heights of writing as he describes the supremacy of love. It’s no surprise that these words are heard in weddings. When a two people pledge themselves to one another in love they’re committing themselves to these glorious ideals. Still, I know Paul isn’t writing to a madly in love young man and woman here. Rather, he’s writing to a church. In fact, he’s addressing a church that isn’t madly in love at all. It’s a church that’s more mad than in love, is fussing and fighting and making itself a spectacle in its community. As I read these words in the context of what it’s really like in Corinth, I feel somewhat uncomfortable. Hopefully, in most churches today there aren’t lawsuits being filed by one member against another. Still, as I gaze at this beautiful word picture of love and realize it’s supposed to describe Christians relating to one another, I fear that we often fall short. The thing is, Paul hasn’t departed reality and entered into some theoretical state of bliss. Near the end of this glorious writing, he confesses that right now we don’t see everything God intends. We’re left with instructions to concentrate on three things while we await the completion of God’s purpose for his Church. We’re to focus on faith, hope, and love with an emphasis on love. It’s quite possible and reasonable to conclude that the church of today can operate at a level above what we see in Corinth. It’s also reasonable to conclude that the ideal pictured in this passage is somewhat beyond our reach. In the middle, then, are the people of God striving to be all God intends; focusing on the Big Three as the route we’re to travel as we journey to that destination.
Take Away: The Lord is working inside the Church to make us one, and, as we cooperate with him, that’s just what he’s going to do.