“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but is happy with the truth. (I Corinthians 13:4-6 Common English Bible)
I first heard these words in Sunday school when I was in Junior High School. They were the cause of my marking up my Bible: I never wanted to lose sight of what these words meant.
But, I did lose sight. As we all have. We’ve judged others without knowing them first. We’ve pressed our own version of truth on others when they really weren’t interested in our finger on their chest. We have turned out back on injustice. We’ve experienced jealousy and anger. We have been impatient and rude.
And that’s probably why this reading is so well-loved. It reads as a piece of poetry, but underneath it compels us and convicts us. It drives us to try and do better.
Love is a verb because it requires action. Love isn’t only a feeling. It’s a doing that points to Jesus and his ministry.
I get tired of movies that depict Jesus as a soft-spoken nice man who never raised his voice. What about when he tipped over the tables in the Temple? How nice was he when he stood up to the religious elite who practiced hypocrisy on the backs of the poor? When the young rich man came to him to ask what he could do to be saved, Jesus loved him. And then he gave him a tough love sort of answer: sell everything you own and follow me.
Love may be hard work, but it’s worthy of the effort. Love brings about greater understanding and insight into truth. Love helps us see in others what we might ordinarily miss. Love opens us up to creative solutions.
Love is grounded in meaning and requires of us our entire selves.
I prefer it that way. Love as a noun is passive and inactive. Love as a verb calls us into the fray to make a difference in our world. And until we see our Lord coming back, we need faith and hope and love to see us through.
All glory and honor be to God.