Summary: A sermon about the only thing that lasts.
“What Gives Life Meaning?: These Things Shall Fade Away”
In his book “Soul Grafiti: Making A Life In The Way of Jesus” author Mark Scandrette tells about a person he met who lived in an abandoned school bus.
The man was bitter; he hated God; he hated life.
And so Mark and some of his friends decided that this was a guy they needed to “love,” if they were going to live like Jesus.
They began visiting the man several times a week, bringing groceries, helping to cut his hair or clip his toe nails, and clean up around his camp.
Gradually, he began to trust their friendship and revealed more about himself.
His name was Robert, and he had been estranged from his family after years in mental institutions.
Over time, Robert’s health started to deteriorate, and by December he could hardly walk.
Scandrette writes that Robert told him, “I am going to kill myself on New Year’s Eve.”
“I would be really sad if you choose to kill yourself,” Scandrette told him.
“Why should you care if I live or die?” Robert asked.
“Robert,” Scandrette told him, “you are valuable to God and to the people who love you. We would miss you.”
“Nobody ever cared about me,” Robert protested.
Scandrette writes, “At Christmas we decided to throw a party for Robert, including his favorite foods and a birthday cake.”
“There was a full moon on that December evening when I knocked on the door to Robert’s bus.”
“He came out…with a young woman, who we knew worked as a prostitute, along with one of her ‘clients.’”
Scandrette continues, “We ate by candlelight serenaded by music from a transistor radio.
Robert declared that the food—a collection of favorite dishes he requested—was delicious.
After dinner my wife Lisa put candles on a cake.
‘Let’s sing Happy Birthday to someone who hasn’t celebrated their birthday in a while,’” Scandrette suggested.
“Who could we sing Happy Birthday to?”
“Just then, beaming, our 3-year-old son Noah blurted out, ‘It’s Christmas, let’s sing Happy birthday to Jesus!’”
Scandrette writes, “I panicked, The name ‘Jesus’ was the worst thing I could imagine mentioning in front of Robert, and I waited to see how he would react.
Slowly, with a big toothless grin, he said, ‘Yes, let’s sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.’”
Scandrette continues, “Under a clear and starry night the eight of us sang together—Lisa and me, a streetwalker and her john, a sixty-three year old transvestite, and three small blond children with red cheeks.”
Scandrette finishes, “As I helped Robert back into his bus, he turned to me and said, ‘This was the best night of my life. Thank you!’”
What gives life meaning?
Those to whom Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 were searching for meaning in their own accomplishments…
…accomplishments which were meant to bring glory to themselves, and prove their superiority over the other members of their church.
Some spoke in tongues, others prophesied, some had a strong faith, still others played the martyr.
And to the outsider looking in, these people might have appeared to be the most dedicated group of Christians around.
But one thing they lacked; they lacked love!!!
And love is the one thing which brings meaning to this life…
…to all we do, really.
Without it, all of our works, all of our religious practices, all of our “showing off” is worthless, nothing.
Love is the one thing which never fails!!!!
It is the one thing which gives our lives meaning.
Without it, we are nothing.
And without it, all our strivings are simply dust in the wind.
In 1 John Chapter 4 the Apostle John writes, “Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.
The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.”
There is no better news than this!!!
God is LOVE!!!
And so the very definition of God is the same as the definition of love as Paul has written it out in our Scripture passage from 1 Corinthians 13.
And we could very easily exchange the word “love” for “God” in verses 4-8.
“God is patient, God is kind, God isn’t jealous, God doesn’t brag, God isn’t arrogant, God isn’t rude, God doesn’t seek God’s own advantage, God isn’t irritable, God doesn’t keep a record of complaints, God isn’t happy with injustice, but God is happy with the truth.
God puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
God never fails.”
Again, the church in Corinth was working hard to find meaning in life through their own accomplishments; they were doing a lot of stuff but it was all inwardly focused busy-ness.