Summary: A non-sentimental sermon about loving one another. Love is the 1)greatest thing 2)toughest thing 3)most needed thing

Moving on with God; the next step in LOVE

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13


- to the series:

o 2 months ago I was sitting on a bridge just behind the Hyde Museum praying about YOU. About our family

 “What do they need, Lord? What should we do?”

• -> “The next step”. They need to move on, and be challenged to take STEPS towards me

 bam, bam, bam- came to me. Next step in Love, faith, hope, gifts, discipline, holiness

o that’s quite something! Clearest for a long time!

o Like it! There’s SO much I want God to do in my life the task seems to huge

 But steps I can handle

 “the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step”

We’re going to journey together. If you’re serious- you’ll be here.

- I’m wanting to go on with God. My soul can’t wait for those who can’t be bothered. But those of us who want to- we’re going to walk, run, crawl, weep- together

- to tonight

o so: here we are tonight, starting off with the first and foremost step to moving on with God

o the foundation to all we are as followers of Jesus


Greatest thing

Because LOVE is the greatest thing. Loving one another.

We’ve all heard sermons on 1 Cor. 13. Many good ones

- but most often in cases of ‘Eros’ love on valentine’s day or at a wedding

o but THIS passage is best understood and applied in a church context. Community context

Here’s the context: the Corinthian church was actually an

- immature church (only ready for ‘milk’)

- competitive church (‘I follow Paul’)

o ‘carnal’, fleshly church

o over competitive- left folks out at Lord’s supper

- gifted church

o many ‘gifts of spirit’

- proud church

o ‘I have this gift therefore I’m better’

And it’s into this context that Paul speaks and says

- you can have ALL these great gifts- but if you don’t have LOVE for each other

o you’re a monster

o you’ve missed the point altogether

o your effectiveness is not ‘reduced’

 it’s useless! In fact- off-putting

 noisy gong or clanging symbol

• like at the worship orgies of Dionysus, the god of the ‘reproductive energies of nature’ that was worshipped in Corinth

o it’s just a load of noise, froth, bubble

He clarifies this again to the Philippian church

PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

If God really HAS worked among you… His Spirit done something in you

- let’s see it by your unity, love and humility

Wow! Isn’t this applicable!

- people storm off from churches because they’re not ‘following the Spirit, or not charismatic enough’

o but HATE the people they leave. Barely see them as Christians. Maybe even as ‘fools’- unable to really grasp what it’s all about

- some are ‘angry people’ because the Spirit isn’t moving enough

o (don’t get much of that, here)

But, friends- if we’re ‘angry’, restless, frustrated

- maybe what we need is more of THIS stuff (here) than (so called) ‘power’

o ‘power’ can be a smokescreen to us not wanting

 to sacrifice for God

 to let Him in. Really move on with Him

It’s a challenge to all of us who might want to judge whether we’re ‘right’ by

- externals, flashiness, outward success

And so- it is NO coincidence… or just to be politically correct… that Paul puts this in between Chs 12 & 14

- it REALLY is the most excellent way.

o Healing in itself! All long to be loved, accepted

- Everything else WILL pass away. APART from love

But what is this love?

It’s unique to God and then Christians

- NOT saying others don’t love!!!!

- But had to develop unique word, here (agape), as others insufficient

o = a word used of Jesus’ love for us

So- our love finds it’s basis in Jesus’ love

- I can only do… give it- because HE’s in me!

- Thomas Merton. (The seven story mountain pp73) describes it thus

o God’s love ’is a love for the utterly unworthy, a love which proceeds from a God who is love. It is a love lavished on others without a thought of whether they are to receive it or not. It proceeds, rather, from the nature of the lover than from any merit in the beloved’.

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