1 Corinthians 12:27-31
And I will show you a still more excellent way (v. 31b).
I once read 1 Corinthians 13 during a beautiful garden wedding at the rustic country home of dear friends. They joined our church 30 years before, on the Sunday after my pastor husband and I had joined. Their son Michael was five that day. Now he was marrying a lovely young woman. During the ceremony, we heard gunshots in the distance. Here in East Texas, we felt confident that was just target shooting, and joked about it being a shotgun wedding.
Now, though, the incident reminds me of Deuteronomy 30:19: “See, I have set before you two ways, the way of life or the way of death.” The way of the gun so often means, “I’ll get mine and I’m not afraid to defend it by the quickest solution.” In verse 31, Paul wants to picture an even more excellent way: the way of love.
As perfect as 1 Corinthians 13 is for a wedding—and what marriage doesn’t need reminders to be patient, kind, and unselfish—Paul is actually talking about relationships within the church. We had raised and baptized Michael in our church community. With his blond stick-up hair, he was our Bart Simpson, getting into all kinds of interesting trouble and drinking nine Dr. Peppers on the first day of youth camp. We loved him anyway, with patience and kindness, never giving up. He rewarded us with his wit, creativity, and insight. He and his wife are back in our church with their own two boys, and we won’t give up on them either.
We hear the gunfire that represents the way of death with increasing frequency in our culture. May churches choose Paul’s more excellent way of love, that we may form Christians who will resist the lure of the way of death.
What are ways that your church lives out Paul’s more excellent way of love?
Loving God, thank you for staying with us over the long haul. Show us how to practice living in your love. Amen.