Sunday, October 5, 2008

1 Corinthians 13 ~ Revisited

Not too long back, I wrote a post on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where I suggested that we replace the word love with our own name. (i.e. Robin is patient, Robin is kind, Robin is not jealous, etc). You can click here to read that entire post if you’d like.

This morning, I am looking at that 3 x 5 card that I wrote those words out on and thinking—“No way! Robin is not and cannot be those things”. Not in my own strength! I cannot even read through that verse seriously without getting hung up now and again on a specific line.

Robin is not easily provoked. Oh about yesterday when I was short-tempered with my child.

Robin does not seek her own. That one just cracks me up. She surely does when it truly matters.

Robin is not jealous. Well...let’s just not go there, shall we?

This morning these words that I had written at the bottom of the card just jumped out at me: “Is the love of Jesus evident in my life?”

There is the difference, folks! It’s Jesus!

I know, what a simple concept, but sometimes I am a slow learner.

Jesus is the one who is patient, kind, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, does not seek his own, is not easily provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered...etc.

It is Jesus who did bear all things...for me. He bore the cloak of human frailty. He bore the humiliation of replacing the throne room of heaven for the smelly stench of a small town stable.

Jesus endured all things. He endured the authority of others over Him whom He Himself had created—parents, priests, Pontius Pilate. He endured the rejection of still others that He formed out of the dust. He endured the taunts, teasing, torture and tragic treatment before a human throne room and by others He Himself had placed in their positions of authority.

Jesus is patient. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Jesus is kind. Remember the tears of Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus? What about those of the widow woman who’s only son died? His lovingkindness remembered and was moved by those tears to work miracles.

Jesus does not brag. He never bragged in who He was. In fact, He often asks others to tell Him who they believed He was. “Peter, who do you say I am? And Peter are the Christ, Son of the living God!”

Jesus is not arrogant. “I am gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29

Jesus does not seek His own. While in the garden with his disciples “He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’” And then again, a little later he prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.’” Matthew 26:39, 42.

Jesus was not easily provoked. Provocations toward Jesus were made time and time again as the religious leaders tried to trick Him into saying something that they could arrest Him for. He called sin sin and His anger over the temple of God being turned into “a den of robbers” ignited righteously. But, no, Jesus was not easily provoked.

And what about all of the wrongs that He suffered? For me...for you.

I could go on and on through the rest of this love list. Perhaps we each should do so on our own, finding examples from scripture to back them up.

As followers of Christ we are to be like Christ. There is only one place to search and find His character and that is in His word because “the Word was with God and the Word was God” John 1:1

Okay, now that we have established how we cannot possibly love the 1 Corinthians way but Jesus can...where do with go from here? I mean, seriously, I can be patient, kind, loving and a good amount of those other things a good amount of the time but not consistently. Usually it is dependant upon other factors—my relationship with God, time spent in the Word, the amount of sleep I’m working with, whether or not hubby’s business is staying busy and I am feeling “financially safe”, if everyone in my home woke up on the “happy” side of life. I think that we could all make a list of our own as to when it is easier for us to love.

But this is when the loving is coming from ourselves. I don’t believe this is the kind of love being spoken of here. This kind of love isn’t fickle. It isn’t dependant upon those favorable outside influences. it impossible? Do I just throw up my hands in despair and give up since I cannot love in the way that Jesus—being God—can?

Yes...I throw my hands up, but no, not in despair!

This is where “put(ting) on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) comes in. When we put on Jesus we take on His character.

How? 1 Corinthians 12:13 says “for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Being “baptized into” is being “united with”. We are united with, take on, put on Christ in this baptism at our conversion from sin to salvation.

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete and He is the head over all rule and authority” Col. 2:9, 10. Yes...yes... but confusion sets in as to how this all works. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” Col. 1:27. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” Col. 2:6

I am still learning how all this works myself. Especially now as I am studying the covenants of the Bible.

What I do know is that we die to the old self and take on Christ. We are no longer enslaved to our old behaviors and our own inabilities to be and live as instructed in His Word. In so doing, we take on His character—hence, the fruits (or character) of the Holy Spirit.

So although I could never on my own love consistently and well as described in 1 Corinthians...Christ within me, can! The old man is dead--dead forever--but the “self” in me still needs to die daily. Christ within me is permanent. He is ALWAYS there! As I “take on” the love God has right there and available to me daily, I can then love others well.

Let’s rewrite that passage of Scripture once more. This time, where you see the blank, fill in your name.

Christ in _______ is patient, Christ in _______ is kind. Christ in _______ does not envy, Christ in _______ does not boast, Christ in _______ is not proud. Christ in _______ is not rude, Christ in _______ is not self-seeking. Christ in _______ is not easily angered, Christ in _______ keeps no record of wrongs. Christ in _______ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Christ in _______ always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Christ in _______ never fails.

Now...that is encouraging...that is possible! That, my friends, is exciting! Is it not?

God bless your day as you go out wrapped up in Him and loving as He would. When it seems too difficult, call on Him...He is right there with you. Ask for His strength in your weakness and watch Him love right through you.

Amazing can it be?