“…love is patient, love is kind…” -1 Corinthians 13
I have both officiated and attended several weddings in my lifetime. Almost all of the weddings I have attended have included this verse (including my own). This is a very popular verse that gives inspiration to many, and the tone that it is read in often instills feels of warmth and relaxation. We imagine the author writing with a big grin…with weddings in mind.
When we read the history behind this passage, however, a different intention is revealed. Paul was writing to a church that was experiencing struggles, infighting, and an attack on the message that they have come to know. Rivalry between social class, families, and members of the church had emerged and threatened to destroy the community that God had built.
So, Paul, with this understanding, pleads with this church. He wants them to understand what true love looks like. He wanted them to know that this love that comes from God is patient, kind (infighting), it does not boast (social class)…and deserves more than just lip service. Christ’s death on the cross was meant to convey power…not counterfeit feelings.
Paul realized that these people who called themselves Christians could do everything they were told to do, but if they did not do it with love…then their actions would be worthless and their speech would be just noise (resounding gong or clanging cymbal).
What we say and what we do can help or hurt if depending on whether love is our driving force. This passage is not meant to be lovey-dovey, but a plea of frustration.
The concept of love is not a weak. It is the power that created the universe…and the blood spilled in the war for your soul.