Saturday, August 25, 2012

The real thing

"Church at Auvers" 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh


TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

TO CHEW ON: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

With the invention of the printing press and photography, the world is full of copies. Years ago I visited the Van Gogh museum. After studying Van Gogh in history of art class, I was excited to see his actual paintings. There was one in particular that caught my eye. The colors, especially the red roof, of the “Church at Auvers” were stunning. Later in the gift shop, I flipped through the poster bin, eager to own a red roof of my own. But what a disappointment. None of the representations came even close to the brilliance and liveliness of the actual painting.

The real painting of love is what we see in 1 Corinthians 13. Study its perfection. See what it is and does. It is long-lasting, rejoices when truth and right prevail, bears up under anything and everything that comes along, believes the best about people, keeps hoping under all circumstances, endures without weakening.

Look at what it isn’t and doesn’t do. It’s not envious, jealous, boastful, or full of itself. It doesn’t parade its accomplishments, isn’t conceited, arrogant, proud, rude, inappropriate, self-seeking, touchy, fretful, or resentful. It doesn’t pay attention to evil done to it, remember a wrong, or rejoice at injustice or unrighteousness.

No matter what personality type you are or what your love weakness is, it’s probably addressed in 1 Corinthians 13. I know mine are and then some! Can I ever love like that? Can you? Only with God’s help!

PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, please change my inner self to love in the 1 Corinthians 13 way.

MORE: How does it work?

Is the Christian life a lifestyle of supernatural enabling or of try-harder in order to live up to the ideal? I believe it’s a little of both.

If we never saw the detailed picture of love painted in 1 Corinthians 13, we might think we were doing pretty well – especially when we compare ourselves to our gossiping neighbor, our jealous cousin or our self-centered star and starlet pop heroes. It’s when we come up against the real thing – as laid out in 1 Corinthians 13 (and fleshed out in the life of Jesus) that we see what a tawdry representation of genuine agape love is portrayed in our lives.

And so we come to God and pray for help – to see our fellowman differently, to let go of hurts, to be kind to annoying people, to trust Him with our future and reputation, to give up the right to manipulate it by boasting, and on and on …

We see the standard. We realize we can’t live up to it. We ask for His help – and slowly we change to become more like 1 Corinthians 13 lovers. Of course we don’t do this to earn heaven but because it’s the way of the One Who loves us and wants only our best. At least that’s the way I see it.

How about you?

(From the Archives)

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