Summary: Love never gives up and endures through all circumstances, it is unbreakable.
Welcome to our penultimate sermon on love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is at the heart of Christianity, we saw that God is love and that we must love as a response. The world is calling out for real love, the Beatles sang I just need somebody to love. Love is such a popular theme in popular music. While some of this does refer to sex, there is also a deep undercurrent of just wanting to belong or to be wanted, to be loved. At the same time they seem to recognise that it doesn’t really exist. Marriages break down, forever doesn’t really seem to mean forever any more. Yet, here Paul wants to tell us that love does exist and that through the power of Christ we can live lives of love.
What is this love like? It is certainly not easy. But it is what we are called to as Christians. This morning we are looking at verse 7. Both this week and next week we’ll be looking at the durability of love. This week we look at love not giving up, that’s our bit, next week we’ll look at love from an eternal perspective as the only thing that lasts. But for the last time, here’s our run down on our approach for this series. 1. How did Jesus show this aspect of love? 2. How do we show or not show this aspect of love? 3. How do you plan to do better in the future?
This verse could be problematic. It is the one that has the most variation in how it is translated. But it is basically about different aspects of not giving up, what I want to do is to read 3 different translations, the NLT, the RSV and the Message of each phrase to help you get to grips with what it means.
Love bears all things, never gives up or puts up with anything.
Love believes all things, never loses faith, trusts God always.
Love hopes all things, is always hopeful, always looks for the best.
Love endures all things, endures through every circumstance, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
I guess another way of putting it would be that love is durable or love is unbreakable. There was this program on TV called brainics and they basically did all those science experiments that people in science classes always wanted to do. For example what really happens when you place metal objects in a microwave and turn it on and keep it on? Well one week they wanted to see exactly how unbreakable, unbreakable objects were, so they got unbreakable plates, mugs and various other stuff and began by hitting them with sledgehammers, then put them all in a caravan and blew it up. Some survived, some didn’t. Some were truly unbreakable (at least to within the limits of the test), some were not. Paul is telling us that genuine Christian love is unbreakable under any circumstances.
So how does Jesus measure up to unbreakable love. Well Easter is coming soon. I am constantly amazed at how close it is, but for completely different reasons. But the cross is perhaps the ultimate expression of this love of Jesus. It shows just how unbreakable his love was. In John 13:1 we are told that Jesus showed the full extent of his love, or loved us to the uttermost, or he loved them right through to the end. Jesus love kept going to the end, endured through every circumstance and all things. If you’ve seen The Passion of the Christ, you’ll have some idea of what Jesus went through, although it is a bit overdone in places. What it doesn’t convey, what it cannot convey but has to rely on the physical aspects, is what Jesus took on himself to become sin for us. God who is by very definition holy, became sin for us. He loved us that much. And then we need to consider the people he was doing it all for. There were the disciples, who misunderstood what Jesus was saying. How got things wrong, who squabbled over who was to be the greatest, while the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe got down and washed their feet, who in the garden of Gethsemane couldn’t even stay awake and keep watch with him, who at the crucifixion deserted him. But Jesus love for them was unbreakable. Or what about the ones doing the crucifixion. Those who handed him over to the Romans and the Romans who carried out the crucifixion. Those who not only put him through the pain and the death, but mocked and rejected him. Jesus said “Father forgive them”. He was doing it for those who were crucifying as well. And what about us who claim to follow him. With all our failings, imperfections, problems, weakness and downright stubbornness and refusal to do what God says at times. Jesus love for us was unbreakable as well, he stayed on the cross. Even for those who don’t accept him, Jesus love is unbreakable and he wants them to come to him. To allow what he has done for them at great cost to apply to them as well. Jesus love was unbreakable.