This number often gets a bad rap, but it always reminds me of "the Love chapter", 1 Corinthians 13. Given the title and purpose of this blog, it seems like the perfect scripture to meditate on today. It's one of those chapters most of us have read or heard quoted so often that sometimes we sort of gloss over it as being so familiar there's no need to meditate on it. When I find myself going there, I like to read it in a different translation than what I might ordinarily choose. Here is how it reads in The Message paraphrase:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I SOOOO love the way this is worded!! I pray this scripture over each member of the Mozambique team and over each one reading this blog (including its writer!)
I find myself thinking of the Steven Curtis Chapman song that says, "It's all about love, love, love, love, love...everything else comes down to this, nothing any higher on the list than love, 'cause after all it's all about love...".
Seems so simple, doesn't it? One of the most "profound" things I heard Heidi Baker say at VOA last year was also the simplest message I've ever heard. She was describing a speaking engagement she was invited to where there were great theologians present and she felt very much out of her element. She said as she awaited her turn at the mic, she fervently prayed that God would give her something, ANYTHING to share with these very studious and religious-minded people. When she took her place at the podium, all she did was place her hand on her head and state, "Too big.", then she placed her hand on her heart and said, "Too small.".
Does God want us to "check our brains at the door"? Of course not, but He tells us to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2) and to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). When our minds are set where they should be set and our heart buckets are turned up to His heart, His love pours in, so we can pour it out on others.
As 1 Cor. 13 says, we can speak, give, and serve, which are all good things, but if those things aren't done in love, we have somehow allowed our minds to become bigger than our hearts. When we speak, give, and serve out of love, it's going to have a much bigger impact in the Kingdom. My prayer for each of us is this: that we would all Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.