Summary: 1 Cor 13, love, gifts, faith, hope
Epiphany 4 – Nothing, but Love
1 Cor. 12:31b—13:13
† In the Name of Jesus †
16 May the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who loves us and gives us unending encouragement and unfailing hope by his grace, inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say or do. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 (Phillips NT)
The basketball flies out of the players hand, it’s 22 foot arc, is absolutely perfect, the ball rotating slowly backward as it drops towards the hoop, and as it enters the cylinder, all one hears is the simple perfect sound, the swooshing rustle of the net. Then silence, and then the thump, as the ball hits the floor.
There is a phrase that describes such a shot, “nuthin but net!”. Said before the shot, by the player, it is a claim of assurance, that the shot to be made will be perfect, no guess work, no risk. Said by those observing the game, it is a remark of admiration, as surely as the applause given to the master violinist, or the stare of awe of those admiring a Picasso, or a Monet. Being able to repeat such a shot, and continually hit nothing but net, is a skill few can master. It requires perfect form, perfect technique, and a certainty of what one is about.
If life where a basketball game, 1 Corinthians 13 is “the” passage, that describes a life that is “nuthin but net.” It describes a life that is perfect, that doesn’t bounce on the sides of the rim, or roll out. It is simple, beautiful, inspiring perfection. That simplicity, that beauty, that inspirational passage read at least at half the weddings I have been to, is life lived, nothing but net.
To be honest, there are times I hate the passage.
Clanging on the rim….
If I look at this passage, and judge my life by it, there are days my shots clang loudly off the rim. And like most humans, there are days where life is like an airball, where not only is the rim missed, but the backboard is as well.
I would think that many of us struggle with being patient with others, but instead, we want vengeance, and judgment on them now. There might be a time or two where being “kind” to that one particular person, or that group, might not ever enter into our mind. Being kind by the way, means being beneficial or helpful, or profitable for the other person. What about being envious, do we choose that, or do we rejoice for what others are blessed with, even when we are not? Boastful? Another thing I have a tendency to be, rather than demonstrate love. I could keep going, mentioning insisting on my way, or being rude, or rejoicing in injustice,
Having played a bit of basketball in my life, the sound of those shots that miss, when I am trying my hardest, can echo far longer in my ears, than the airball I shot without caring. Just like the times where I thought the lesson was learned, and I would live perfectly as God wants, and then, as I read a passage like this, and realize how far short my attempt came… the guilt can be overwhelming…when one sees their lives judged by the standard of this passage…
The Free Throw Substitute
That swoosh, provides our hope, our faith,
There is a rule, in basketball, that is so applicable to the Christian life, and to the problem of our dealing with sin. Imagine the game is on the line, and you are a poor free throw shooter. For those that don’t know, a free throw is what you get if someone fouls you, the penalty for them holding, or pushing or doing some thing to you against the rules. Imagine the game is on the line, and you get fouled with one second on the clock, down by 2 points. If you make the free throws, you win, if you do not, you loose.
Only problem is, you are a horrible free throw shooter. So bad that you do the old fashioned “gramma” shot. If you shoot, the game is over. But the rule states, that if you have been injured in the process of the foul, someone else can replace you, to shoot the foul shots for you. The coach can replace you with anyone on the bench. Say someone who will hit ‘nuthin but net”.
In life, our lives are injured, injured by sin, ours, and those sins committed against us. That is why we pray, in the Lord’s prayer, that God forgives us, as we forgive others. Our injuries totally debilitate us, and Jesus steps in, and with a sinless, obedient life, and His sacrifice on the cross, substitutes for us, and hits nothing but net. You see, we often talk of how His death substitutes for the death our sin has earned, but equally, his righteousness, his perfection, his “nothing but net’ness” is counted as ours. Because of His love.