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Summary: Love overcomes the clamking gons of life; without love it is impossible to please God; faith is of vaule when backed by love; love is a matter of just doing it!

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SERMON: Love Overcomes All I Cor 13:1-13 February 15,2004

Have you heard the story about the actor who was playing the part of Christ in the Passion Play in the Ozarks? As he carried the cross up the hill a tourist began heckling, making fun of him and shouting insults at him. Finally, the actor had taken all of it he could take. So he threw down his cross, walked over to the tourist and punched him out.

After the play was over, the director told him, “I know he was a pest, but I don’t condone what you did. Besides, you’re playing the part of Jesus and Jesus never retaliated. So don’t do anything like that again.” Well, the man promised he wouldn’t. But the next day the heckler was back worse than before and finally the actor exploded and punched him out again.

The director said, “That’s it. I have to fire you. We just can’t have you behaving this way while playing the part of Jesus.” The actor begged, “Please give me one more chance. I really need this job, and I can handle it if it happens again.” So the director decided to give him another chance.The next day he was carrying his cross up the street. Sure enough, the heckler was there again. You could tell that the actor was really trying to control himself, but it was about to get the best of him. He was clinching his fists and grinding his teeth. Finally he looked at the heckler and said, “I’ll meet you after the resurrection!”

You know, sometimes it is hard for those who profess to be Christians to behave like Christians should. We dress and act the part. We try to carry our crosses and walk the road Christ walked, but when someone does something we don’t like, when someone crosses us, challenges us, pushes us to the end our human limits and gets on our last nerve we tend to lose our composure and behave the same way the rest of the world behaves.

Let us turn this morning to our scripture found in 1Corinthians 13:1-3 that we might understand how we can always act as Christ would have us too. READ SCRIPTURE.

The Corinthian Church has been having an ongoing argument. Speaking in tongues is the greatest spiritual gift, no prophecy is, no teaching and preaching is. They were in upheaval over whose gift was the most important and most God-graced. So Paul writes to them to explain things. In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians Paul challenges the Corinthians to stop looking at themselves and start looking at the group. He says that we are all part of one system, one unit developed to work together for the glory of God not of self. He points to that fact we are to work together collective in whatever way or with whatever gifts God has chosen for us. There are Lone Rangers and there are no Superstars in God’s kingdom. Each part of the body of Christ and each gift or talent is just as important as the others. Then he ends the chapter by saying but there is a way to use the gifts in the most excellent of ways. Then Paul does what Paul likes to do when writing he gives his message in the opposite context by pointing to what isn’t the way.

Verse 1 - On the day of Pentecost, when the very first gospel was ever preached, God gave the apostles the special gift of being able to speak in languages that they had never learned so that the peoples hearing them could understand what was being said. An amazing gift yet Paul is saying here that if God gave us the gift to speaking every human language possible and even gift of the language of angels but we did not have love we would be nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

These are loud monotone instruments that on their own cannot create melody or harmony. Music soothes the soul, music moves you, it builds you up. You welcome it but a gong is made to grate on you, to offend your ears and get your attention.

Paul’s listeners would be intimately aware of this because daily on the streets of Corinth, the clanging gongs would call the people to worship at the pagan temples. As the people entered the temples they would each hit the gong to awaken the pagan gods so they would listen to their prayers. One person wrote gongs were used to”drive away demons or rouse the worshippers, but they created as much tranquility of spirit as constantly barking dogs.”

Paul here is specifically referring to the gift of tongues, but his words could be applied to any speaking that one may do to God, to another believer, or to an outsider about God when it is done without love. It’s offensive. Your words end up grating in people’s ears. You could speak the nicest most spiritual sounding words to someone, flatter them all you want, but if you don’t love thru respect, care, and truth your words are just ingratiating noise.

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