The other day my Bible reading came from the 13th and 14th chapters of 1st Corinthians. The former is known as the love chapter. Usually it’s used as a basis of love in marriage. That of course is a great application, but it’s not actually the intention of Paul.
Paul is writing to a dysfunctional church that had a hard time agreeing on anything. They bragged about who they followed (Chapter 3), and they didn’t even act nicely during communion (Chapter 11). Chapter 13 is sandwiched between two chapters on how the body of Christ is supposed to function. Thus the context of love as described by Paul is how we act as the body of Christ. Consider this:
- It’s more about ministry than it is about marriage.
- It’s meant to be understood more corporately than individually. Something everyone does together.
- Ministry (the spiritual gifts of Chapter 12 and prophecy and unknown languages of Chapter 14) is meaningless without love.
- A church could have great preaching (knowledge) and faith, but without love would be nothing.
As I read the descriptors of verses 4-7 now, I’m challenged to read it a little differently:
We, the Church, are patient and kind. We are not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. We do not demand our own way. We are not irritable, and we keep no record of being wronged. We do not rejoice about injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. We, the Church, never give up, never lose faith, are always hopeful, and endure through every circumstance.