Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Soul & Inspiration: Love

An edited version of a talk for BBC Radio Wiltshire's Soul & Inspiration with Heather Skull.
We’ve been thinking about what the apostle Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 13, “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13).We have reflected on faith. How important it is to have personal trust that God accepts us as his own in Jesus Christ. The Christian looks forward to the future with hope because we know that Jesus is coming again to make all things new. But there is something greater even than faith and hope. That is love. Faith will one day be turned into sight. Then we will need it no more. Our hope will ultimately be realised in the gory of God’s kingdom. We won’t need to hope for what we already have! But love remains. Love is eternal.

1 Corinthians 13 is really all about love. Without love the most wonderful spiritual gifts are worthless. Without love the greatest self-sacrifice is worthless,

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." (1-3).

What then is love? Paul describes the characteristics of true Christian love,

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (4-8a).

Is that not a wonderful description of love? This is the kind of love that was exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ. Only he has fully embodied the love Paul so eloquently described. Jesus said,

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13)

It was love for us that drove Jesus to the cross to die for our sins. This bowls us over. As Isaac Watts put it in his hymn, “When I survey the wondrous cross”,

Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my life, my soul, my all.

Love is the true hallmark of Christian discipleship,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34 & 35).

Heaven will be a world of love, where those who have believed in Jesus will bask forever in the love of the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Has this heavenly love gripped your soul? “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
You can listen to this week's edition of Soul & Inspiration here. The talk is 42.18 into the programme.

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