Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Love, above all else

I remember hearing about Tim Sanders Love is the killer app book when I was last at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in Chicago. I was reminded of it when I read the opening of 1Corinthians 14, where Paul says, "Let love be your highest goal". A literal translation of the Greek might be "Pursue love", in other words go after it, make it a consuming passion, don't let anything else take the priority position that love should have amongst the range of spiritual gifts that are available to you.

Of the three that remain (1Cor.13:13), love is the greatest. Paul says they remain whilst all the other gifts that are so eagerly pursued, and trumpeted, will pass away. But love remains with hope and faith. You probably don't need me to remind you how often faith, hope and love come up in Paul's letters.

The question I'm asking myself is: "How do I purse love as my highest goal?" When I did ethics at college we studied various approaches to issues, one of which was always to do the most loving thing. The problem was defining what the most loving thing was. Everyone had a different perspective.

Perhaps, from a Christian perspective, the most loving thing is always going to be the thing that most honours God. It's the thing that Jesus would do if he had to make the decision. It would be the thing most full of grace and most reflective of his character. It would understand the predicament but always point to a better way. It wouldn't judge and condemn but rather forgive and restore. But there would also be a sense of challenge too (... go and sin no more {John 8:11})

It's a balance we find difficult to maintain. We worry that if we don't do something about discipline, then the church will fall apart; that if we don't root out sin, we'll be seen as condoning patterns of life that are are far from God's ideal.

So when I read Paul's words I ask myself: How did Jesus make love his goal? And then I see the shadow of the cross and suddenly my perspective changes.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son....

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