The final message in our “Make Your Mark” series came from 1 Corinthians 13- also known as “The Love Chapter.” It is one of the most beautiful pieces of scripture (or any writing for that matter). 1 Corinthians 13 has found acceptance outside the church and finds its way into weddings, wall hangings, and all sorts of other places.
Couples will have the scripture read in weddings, and while it does talk about love, the chapter is not about marriage. In fact, Paul writes the chapter to explain what Christian love looks like to the churches at Corinth who are struggling to live in Christian love with one another and the community around them. They are clueless when it comes to love.
For the purposes of this post- love is an action and a commitment to put the other in front of ourselves. It is a lifestyle where model our lives after Christ who said, “Greater love has no one than this- to lay down one’s life for one’s friend (John 15:13).” If we are to make a mark as Christians and as a church- then our lives should be characterized by love; a sacrificial love that puts the other ahead of ourselves because God’s heart and love is turned towards the other (this includes us!!).
One of the most challenging parts of this message and preparation was the events that transpired in Boston, MA this week. As I sat, with many across our community and world, stunned about the bombing and the manhunt to catch the accused perpetrators, it became interesting to see some of the social media feeds and our attitudes towards our “enemies.” One of my college friends (@mattswaim) posted a tweet while the manhunt for the second suspect was nearing an end that captured what I was feeling- and praying others felt as well.
While I had emotions and wanting to see some sort of justice carried out, I also wrestle with trying live out the example of Christian love that is contained in the scriptures. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
This is a hard text to live into during an emotional week like the past one has been. It is a hard text when we have people who come against us at work, in our churches (yes, even there), or in our families. But the highest living that we can aspire to is to love as Jesus loved. To not just love our friends- but to be active in loving our enemies by extending them grace, mercy, prayers, and our words and actions that point them to the love that we’ve received through Jesus.
As we are midway through a new week, the encouragement is to love- to love our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our co-workers, our waitresses and servers, our bus drivers, professors- and yes, even our enemies. In a world filled with violence and hate- living in and living out the divine love of God is the best weapon we have been given to repel the darkness of evil and sin.