Summary: This is the final installment of a series I did on I Corinthians 13, dealing with the fact that "love endures all things, and never fails."
“The Power of Love”
March 23, 2003
Love of Another Kind – I Corinthians 13
“Kids say the darnedest things”, they say, and so Art Linkletter, and more recently, Bill Cosby, made a TV show out of the concept! When Anthony was little, we got a kick out of the fact that he brought us a household tool, proclaiming that he had fetched for us a “scroover”. To this day, my mother calls that big household appliance a “pidgipator”, a term I coined as a youngster. When Brent was smaller, he pronounced names and words pretty well, but for some reason, as he went around the list of each person’s name, when he got to Anthony, he would confidently announce that his name was “Duh”. Perhaps he was prescient; from time to time, his mother and I still look at Anthony and say, “Duh!”
But sometimes they think the darnedest things as well. I asked some friends in our church this week about things they remembered getting wrong as kids. One said that, for the longest time, he couldn’t understand how to dial a telephone, because he couldn’t figure out how, when looking at a phone number, how to dial the dash! Another said that in kindergarten, as he’d recite the Pledge of Allegiance, he would say, "and to the republic, for witches stand”, figuring that the flag must be pretty important if even a witch would stand in honor! One mother said of her kids that she overheard them doing a wedding between two dolls. One asked, “do you take this man to be your awfully wed husband?” Another said that, as a little girl on a snowy, cloudy Christmas Eve, she’d been told by a mischievous uncle that he’d heard on the radio that Santa might not be able to get through, because the batteries which powered Rudolph’s nose were quickly running out! Sent into a panic, she insisted that that evening, in addition to the requisite milk and cookies to be set out for Santa, a large variety of batteries of all shapes and sizes be set out for Rudolph—after all, does a reindeer’s nose take AAA, or 9-volt, or what? It became a family tradition, she said, to set out batteries every Christmas Eve—hey, you just never know, do you?
Often pulled out of context and used to illustrate a variety of things, we come to the passage today wherein Paul says to us, “when I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned like a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Paul is speaking to a church filled with people whose understanding of spirituality centered on the spectacular manifestation of certain flashy spiritual gifts. Paul spends, of course, an entire chapter focusing them on that which is far more important: love. Today, we close out our study of this subject by taking a look at the Power of Love—God’s kind of love, and how it never fails! In a moment, we’ll sing about that love; let’s extend a little of that to each other now!
We have been looking now at the subject of love since September, and as I said, we conclude today. We began by focusing on Jesus’ words that remind us that priority one in our lives is love. Jesus said, in response to a question from a religious leader, that the most important commandments centered on love, that we love God with everything we have, our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Then we began taking a look at I Corinthians 13, which details for us some of the practical manifestations of that love as it works itself out in our lives. And so we come to our text one last time today, but I’d like to arrest your attention with a question: “Are you living a life of love, as described by Paul?”
Or did you just listen to a sermon series to which you nodded mental assent, maybe even tossed out a loud “Amen” (or in the context of this far-too-reticent congregation, a muted under-your-breath kind of “Amen”)? Perhaps your response to the teaching was to critique the series, “boy, that was a great series” or, just as likely, “Harvey’s done better before!” Sometimes, I wonder if Christians are disciples or critics, like ecclesiastical versions of the Muppets’ Statler and Waldorf, tossing out sharp one-liners from their balcony/pews. Guess what? Listen carefully as I say something I mean to be taken in the most loving way I can imagine: I don’t care what you think of this series! I’ve heard a lot of good things from people—that’s fine, thanks. But I don’t care where it ranks among other series I’ve preached in your mind. What I care about is one thing: are you living a life characterized by Christ-like, agape love as described in I Corinthians 13? Has God convicted you about aspects of this love that aren’t really functioning in your life—and have you responded with repentance and renewed obedience as a result? That’s what matters to me. Today, our subject is The Power of Love—and I’m not sure that Huey Lewis has a clue! Stand with me as we read!