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Summary: A sermon about meaning found in God's love, God's future.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

“What Gives Life Meaning?: The Bridge to the Future”

Last year an article in USA Today analyzed a surge in a group of Americans whom they termed the “spiritually apathetic.”

They aren’t atheists.

Instead, according to the article, “They simply shrug off God, religion, heaven, or the search for meaning and purpose.

Their attitude could be summed up as ‘So what?’”

The article pointed to statistics from recent surveys.

For instance, 44 percent of respondents told a Baylor University study that they spend no time seeking ‘eternal wisdom,’ and 19 percent said that “it’s useless to search for meaning [in life].”

And yet, time and time again it has been proved that although human beings can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air…we can’t live at all without hope, without meaning.

According to a recent study, the suicide rate in the United States has increased by 5 % over the past 36 months or three years.

And in some age brackets, that percentage climbs to as high as 16 %.

So even though there may be an increasing number of the “spiritually apathetic,” people can’t survive nor thrive this way.

We must have meaning.

What gives your life meaning; does your life have meaning?

Do you even care?

Popular theologian N.T. Wright has written, “When people say, as they sometimes do, that [the Apostle] Paul must have been a very difficult person to have around—that he seems to have been awkward, cantankerous, argumentative, and generally an unpleasant character—[1st Corinthians 13] is the passage I often quote in reply.”

And the reason he does this is because it seems practically impossible to imagine that this passage we are using for our Advent Sermon Series…

…that Paul could have written this very personal letter unless this was the kind of person that he himself was.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Paul lived up to this stunning picture of love every minute of every day.

But what it does mean is that he had spent his life and energy being who he was and doing what he did for the sake of God and other people.

And therefore, Paul lived his life copying and embodying the love that Jesus Himself has shown by dying on the Cross for the sins of the world.

I mean, when we look at the words written in verses 4-8…

…and if we pause to really reflect and think about what they mean and what they look like when they are lived-out—we will see that they describe and deepen our understanding of the highest virtue, the greatest quality, the most Jesus-like characteristic anyone could ever imagine.

And that characteristic is LOVE!!!

What does love look like?

What does Jesus’ love look like?

What is the key to life and thus living a meaningful existence?

Well, here it is.

And the relevance of this insight when compared to a world that seems increasingly to be possessed by the power of evil should drive all of us to ask: “Where else but in Jesus Christ can anyone find salvation from the sins that are ripping us apart, destroying us, ruining so many lives?”

I mean LOOK at the relevance of this passage!!!

There’s a story about when Mozart was a young man living with his father.

He would play a trick on his dad every once in a while.

Young Mozart would come home from a late night with his friends, and his father (who was a musician himself) would already be asleep in bed.

So he would go to the piano, and would play, loudly, a rising scale of notes, getting slower and louder as he headed toward the top.

And then he would stop, one note short, and go to bed himself.

As the story goes, Young Mozart’s dad would toss and turn in bed as this unfinished scale came into his head…into his dreams…and imagination.

And finally, the frustration would be too much to bear.

Eventually, he would drag himself out of bed, stagger downstairs, and play the last note.

The call of love, and the call of life itself is like an unfinished scale, going ahead of us into God’s future.

The music, which will one day be completed, is our destiny!!!

And Love is the bridge to that destiny.

In our passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul sees all of life within the framework of God’s future—which has burst into the PRESENT in the person of Jesus Christ as the world’s one true Lord and Savior!!!

Love is the way of life in the new world, when the Kingdom of God will come in completed form on earth as it is in heaven— “then we will see face to face…then we will know completely in the same way that [we are] completely known.”

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