I am struck by Paul’s words to the Corinthian Christians as he closes his first letter, “Do everything in love,” along with, “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus,” (16:14 & 24). He has covered a lot of ground in this letter and he has sternly corrected them on many fronts, and yet he begins the letter with affirmation and he ends with affirmation, and he particularly ends with an admonition to do everything in love and with giving his own love to them.
To the touchy-feely eye of the contemporary American much of the letter does not appear to be written in love for we do not correlate love with correction and much of the letter contains correction, we’ve thrown the benchmarks of life out and we don’t conceive of a love that contains correction, “You’re judging me!” is our response to people like Paul. The Bible tells us that whom God loves He corrects, but we can’t conceive love like that so we gloss over those parts of the Bible; what’s left is read without context.
I’m struck by these jewels at the close of First Corinthians, “Do all things in love.” When I was a new follower of Jesus Christ I quickly learned Mark 12:30 – 31, “You shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Perhaps I should say that I learned the words, I’m still learning their meaning; in fact there is probably more evidence in my life that I don’t live their meaning than the converse. As I ponder this I must say that I’m a great example of the fact that being able to recite Scripture is no evidence of living out Scripture or of even understanding Scripture. I was narcissistic when I came to Christ and I have been exceptionally narcissistic during my life. There is an element of my life in Christ in which I find Him peeling back the layers of the onion to reveal deeper veins of narcissism than I could have understood forty or so years ago…or even a year ago.
And this leads to another thought I’ve been pondering, my call in Christ today is the same as it was back in 1966; to worship Him and love Him and to love others. Why do I complicate things?