Summary: Epiphany 4: What we say we believe and what we do can sometimes be at odds with each other. If we are to live out the mission that God has given the Church, love looks like his people sharing Jesus with others.
What believer has not been touched by the beautiful ’love chapter’? These words to the Corinthians are almost poetic in nature, and yet so authentic that they touch the soul. In these words, God gives us a beautiful description of what ‘love’ looks like:
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:1-10, 13 - English Standard Version)
In these words, God tells us that ‘love looks like something.’ Love is not just a feeling or a romantic notion of some sort. It looks like something.
Each of us is here because we believe in the Biblical message of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection – yes? We believe and accept the truths of Scripture as uncompromisingly accurate – yes? We believe that the promises of faith and forgiveness as well as the judgments that the Bible contains are without a doubt real – yes?
I ask these questions because sometimes what we say that we believe and how we apply it to our lives leaves the observer a bit confused. Love looks like something – and I’d like for us to think of how the love God has given to us needs to look like in order for others to also believe.
Ken Davis was enrolled in a college class where he was asked to teach a topic in a creative and memorable way. And so he prepared a lesson entitled, “The Law of the Pendulum.” He spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principles that govern a swinging pendulum. The physics behind a swinging pendulum are easy to see. Here’s the general idea: a pendulum, when released, can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was let go. Why? Because friction and gravity cause the pendulum to lose energy, and so on each subsequent return, it will fall shorter and shorter of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally comes to rest. Ken demonstrated this principle by making a 3-foot pendulum and attaching it to the top of the chalkboard. He pulled it to one side and made a mark on the chalkboard at the point where he let it go. Each time the pendulum swung back, he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the pendulum come to rest. By looking at the descending marks on the chalkboard, it could easily be seen how the law of the pendulum worked.
When he finished the demonstration, Ken asked the people in the class whether they believed whether the law of the pendulum was true. Everybody seemed rightly convinced. All of the people in the class, including the instructor raised their hands.
But the lesson was only starting. Unbeknownst to them, Ken had beforehand hung from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room a large, crude, but fully functional pendulum. He had attached 250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord. Ken invited the teacher to climb to the top of a table and sit on a chair with his head against a cement wall. The student pulled the metal to the teacher’s nose and asked the professor, “Do you believe the law of the pendulum?” The professor managed a meek, “Yes.” With that, Davis released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. As it began its return, the teacher dove off the table! Davis turned to the class, “Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?” In unison, the students responded, “No.” (Adapted from stories on two websites: COG7.org - Church of God 7th Day and from ESermons.com)