1 Corinthians 13 is one of the more well-known chapters within the Bible. It is read at weddings. It is quoted by religious and non-religious people. It is a meditation on love. We are called to love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The two greatest commands are to love God and love others. God is love, and we are to imitate God. Love is an important topic for Christians. It is also a challenging topic. None of us have mastered the two greatest commands. None of us have perfected our imitation of God. We love, but we often do it imperfectly. We need practice. We need to keep pursuing love.
The greatest example of love is Jesus on the cross, but most of us need something more practical. We are in awe of the cross. We are moved by the cross. We see the cross and we see love, but most of us will never achieve a level of love like that. God understands this, and so we are given other examples and instructions. Love for our neighbor is defined in the story of the good Samaritan. Paul describes love for us in 1 Corinthians 13. He presents various ways we can practice love. In verse 7 he writes, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Paul explains in this verse what love looks like in the communities in which we live. This is what love looks like in the church. This is what love looks like in our families. This is what love looks like on the job.
What makes a strong community is trust. As Christians, we are called to believe the best about a person. Love means that we hope for the best and work toward that outcome. When trouble arrives, we are to bear the burdens of others and endure the hard times. We do not abandon people. We do not give up on people. We do not gossip or turn our back on others. A strong church is one built on trust. When we trust each other, we strengthen the bonds of friendship. Trust allows us to learn from one another. Trust means we are comfortable confessing our sins. Doubt will destroy a church. When we doubt we will not confess. When we doubt we will not develop the friendships we need. When we doubt we will not learn from others because we will always be leery. Pride grabs a hold of us, and we think we know better. Trust means we are humble. Trust means we are sometimes vulnerable. We love by learning how to trust and by growing together in Christ. This is what it means to become a mature Christian.
May we imitate Jesus as we practice bearing the burdens of others, trusting one another, hoping the best for one another, and enduring whatever obstacles get in our way. May we be patient and kind with one another as we walk in the ways of love.