Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Isn’t our God Great?

Meditation for the week of September 5, 2010

1 Corinthians13:4-7  Love (1) suffers long and (2) is kind; (3) love does not envy; love (4) does not parade itself, (5) is not puffed up; (6) does not behave rudely, (7) does not seek its own, (8) is not provoked, (9) thinks no evil; (10) does not rejoice in iniquity, but (11) rejoices in the truth; (12) bears all things, (13) believes all things, (14) hopes all things, (15) endures all things.

Fifteen characteristics of love are given in this essay by Paul on divine love or charity.  This is not the reciprocated love that we have for friends, or the erotic love that we have in romance novels.  This is the divine love that God has for sinners who do not always respond to His love.  This is the love of action, sacrifice and of devotion. This love is expected of Christians.  Paul says that we are to pursue love in the next chapter.

(1) Love is characterized by patience.  (2) Kindness which is certainly the opposite of cruelty is one of the characteristics of love.  (3) Love is not Jealous (which probably involves being covetous).   (4) Love doesn’t parade itself or, as some versions say, it doesn’t sing its own praises.  (5) Love isn’t arrogant (6) nor is it rude.  (7) Love is not self-centered  (8) nor does love get angry easily or quickly.  (9) In thinking no evil, love keeps no record of wrongs.  Thus, plans cannot be made to repay evil with evil.  (10) Love is not happy when people practice sin or when injustice prevails.  (11) Love expects people to tell the truth and not to be duplicitous, saying one thing and meaning another.  (12) Love bears all things which likely means that it is supportive.  (13) Love believes all things which doesn’t mean all things are believable, but one who loves would not be suspicious of everything that he or she hears.  (14) Love hopes, that is love has a positive attitude.  (15) Love is able to persevere.

A saved person has experienced this kind of love.  John 3:16 says that God SO LOVED the world that He gave His unique Son so we who trust in Christ can be saved from perishing eternally.  Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates his love through the death of Christ.  God not only loves but God is love according to 1 John 4:16.  We could replace the word love in our passage with the Lord Jesus and we would have a comprehensive description of Him.  However, I am sure that most of us could not replace the word love with our own names and be honest.  Most of us would have to confess that on nearly every one of the characteristics mentioned, we fall short.  While that is not something of which to be proud, it does make the true love of God shine so much brighter when we realize that God didn’t wait for us to get good so that we could get saved.  And even when we aren’t good as Christians, He still loves us.  Isn’t our God great?

The political world is disappointing because those who run for office as Christians usually violate nearly every characteristic in the above list.  I have decided to vote for the next person who runs for public office by saying that while he or she would like to have the chance to serve, his or her opponent is really a good person with good qualities and good character who would also do a good job if elected.  The religious world is just as disappointing with competition among churches for members and with a covetous desire for money and more money.  Sin often is overlooked in the interest of keeping peace and adding members.  The social world also disappoints since it is certainly filled with hate and prejudice and the desire to associate only with the the “right” people. 

One of the biggest obstacles to preaching the Gospel today is not the unsaved or the cults or the religions of the world that do not believe in the divinity of Christ.  I am convinced that the biggest obstacle is Christians who do not demonstrate the love of God in their lives.  Probably that is most of us.

Reading through this well-known passage is both convicting and reassuring.  It is convicting when I think of how little I really know about and practice divine love.  But is is reassuring when I think of the love of God as demonstrated by Christ.  The love of God never passes away nor does it become ineffective nor does it fail.  He loves all of us no matter what.  Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bruce Collins

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