Summary: What is the one thing that separates Christians from unbelievers? Why would we act that way?
April 28, 2002
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (KJV)
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, & 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, & punched him out.
After the play was over, the director told him, "I know he was a pest, but I can’t condone what you did. Besides, you’re playing the part of Jesus, & 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, & finally the actor exploded & 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, & 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 & grinding his teeth. Finally, he looked at the heckler & said, "I’ll meet you after the resurrection!" (1)
We don’t know if the actor ever followed through "after the resurrection". But he provides the backdrop for the first of two statements we need to hear about love:
I. A Christian loves because he does
For many years in American culture, love has been portrayed as a feeling that overcomes you. It includes weak knees, unexplainable head-in-the-clouds and that goofy look other people see on your face. That is not really love, but rather it is romance - a kind of lust-driven drunkenness.
Love is also not doing things for other people because you have the means and they don’t. That is simply what many nice people do out of compassion, at best. A lesser motive is that we fear being like the poor folks and give to appease whatever gods control the distribution of stuff. But, the worst motive is self-aggrandizement. We want to be noticed when we give.
True Christian loving is doing what the other person needs most, simply because truth and integrity demand it.
Football great Bubba Smith has sworn off booze. Not drinking it, but selling it. Bubba never did drink, but he sold a ton of beer by making cute television ads. Not anymore. Bubba has kicked the habit….Here’s how it happened.
"I went back to Michigan State for the homecoming parade last year," Bubba said. "I was the grand marshal and I was riding in the backseat of this car. The people were yelling, but they weren’t saying, ’Go, State, go!’ One side of the street was yelling, ’Tastes great!’ and the other side was yelling ’Less filling.’
"Then we go to the stadium. The older folks are yelling ’Kill, Bubba, kill!’ But the students are yelling ’Tastes great! Less filling!’ Everyone in the stands is drunk. It was like I was contributing to alcohol, and I don’t drink. It made me realize I was doing something I didn’t want to do.