Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why the "Love Chapter"

There is a very popular chapter in the bible that is commonly referred to as the “love chapter”. Most followers of Jesus Christ know the verses I am referring to. Most who have attended church for any period of time have probably heard the verses. If you have never attended church but have been to a wedding…you may have heard this chapter. It is Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, and it goes like this:
            If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and 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.
            Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
            Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
            So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

What I would like to do is to spend a few moments talking about why Paul wrote these words and why he placed these words right in the middle of his letter to the church in Corinth.
So let’s start with a little history. The church in Corinth was a very new and young church. It had only been established by Paul a few years before this letter.
There were several major mainstays of the social practices of the city of Corinth that were beginning to leak into the church culture. Corinth had been a community that was very big on social advancement. There was a big emphasis on pride related to personal accomplishments. The residents of Corinth had worshiped many other “Gods” and as part of that practice was the use of sex as part of their ceremonies and worship. It was common practice to have multiple sexual partners outside of personal relationships as it was considered “normal” in their society. It was also common in Corinth to pay speakers to come into the city; who by the use of lavish speeches, putting on a huge display, the use of humor and showmanship would attempt to “educate” or sway their audience in the way of social behavior and social advancement.

There were several of the above issues that were brought to Paul’s attention and prompted him to write this letter. As a matter of history, this is actually the second letter that Paul wrote and the first has been lost to history. Now it is important to understand that Paul was very pleased and proud of the church he had started in Corinth; however, he was equally concerned over issues that if left unattended could lead those of the church away from the Gospel of Christ. So he wrote a letter to bring to their attention or to clarify to the church the expectations of Christ.

So Paul is writing to the church at Corinth about division. He’s telling them not to be divided by doctrines or the use of spiritual gifts. Not to be divided by whom they follow or who they had been baptized by. He’s warning them about the sexual immorality that they have been indulging in.
The entire letter is an admonishment to unity. And right in the middle of this letter he places these couple of paragraphs regarding love. So why does Paul add these words in the middle of writing a letter of correction to the Corinth church? These few simple words in the middle of this letter are reminding the church that their focus should be on love.

I served in the United States Marine Corps and one of my specialties was that of a firearms instructor. There are many factors that have to come into play to teach someone how to place a round in the bulls-eye. Things such as stance, posture, grip, breathing, trigger squeeze and so on. But one of the things that is the most difficult to train a new shooters to do is to obtain and maintain the correct focus during aiming. In order to correctly aim the weapon, you have to obtain the appropriate alignment and picture of what the sights in relationship to the target should look like. The trick is that the human eye can only focus on one point at a time and if your eye is not focused on the appropriate point, you will not be able to obtain the picture and the alignment needed to effectively hit your target. In order to place the round where you need it to go, you must obtain and maintain your focus on the front sight.
I will try not to drag this out, but follow me for just a few minutes. In a lot of weapons, the front sight is fixed, that is it is welded. It cannot be moved or adjusted. On those weapons that you can adjust the front sight; once the weapon is “sighted in” the front sight is never touched again. All adjustments to the weapon in regards to sighting adjustments are then made to the rear sights (elevation and windage).

So how does this apply to you and me today? How does this apply to what Paul is saying to the church in Corinth? The target in our illustration represents the people in our lives. People from family to friends, from people we go to church with to neighbors, from those we are sharing the gospel with to perfect strangers. The rear sights that we must look through represent our beliefs and our doctrines, our customs and our habit’s, our pride and our self-righteousness, our foundation and our faith…our religion. The rear sights represent what we know and what we believe. But the most import part of lining up our sights is staying focused on the front sight which is love. The love of God, the love of Jesus Christ and the love we are to have for one another.

When we are focused on the rear sights; we can get hung up on our beliefs and our righteousness, our doctrines and our rituals, and completely miss our target. When we focus on our targets; we can become distracted by their faults and their failures, their shortcomings and their sins, their differences and their quirks, and completely miss the target. But when we focus on the fixed front sight of the love of Jesus Christ; things begin to line up. When we are completely focused on love we begin to notice that the target begins to blur. We can no longer see all the blemishes, spots and wrinkles on the target. When we become focused on love; we notice that the rear sights of our religion, our righteousness, our pride and our doctrines begin to blur – yet we will be able to obtain the perfect alignment needed to hit our target.

What Paul was saying to the church in Corinth is that you have lost focus and become distracted. Distracted not only by your own pride and religion, but distracted also by those around you that you have been called to be the light of the Gospel to. Paul took a minute out of the middle of his letter to simply say that if the center of your focus is not on love…you are missing the entire message of Jesus Christ. If you are not focused on love, you will have missed the entire purpose of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

So why did Paul write the “love chapter”? He wrote it to call us back into focus. Focus on love and the ultimate example of that love was the sacrifice of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

I pray that when in our lives we seem to be struggling to hit the target in regards to our relationship with those around us, we need to stop and examine our focus. I pray that we all learn to stay focused on love. Jesus said; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”(Luke 10:27 ESV)
Heavenly Father strengthen us through your Holy Spirit that we may walk in love, maintain focus on love and be examples of your love in all that we do. We ask in Jesus name – Amen.

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