The fairly new church in the bustling seaport city of Corinth back in AD 65 was booming. It was a dynamic charismatic and Pentecostal community attracting pagans and religious people alike. The meetings were pumping – inspiring worship times, sensational preaching, insightful teaching, as well as regular healings and miracles. It was the place to encounter God. The Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways.
But something was wrong. In the midst of all the growth and hype about this church, a kind of spiritual cancer had subtly set in. Yes, it was good at pretty much everything … except LOVE. The apostle Paul, who founded this church, was annoyed, and rightly so. After all, LOVE was to be the central experience and practice of every follower of Jesus. LOVE was supreme and of primary importance.
In a letter to this church, Paul addressed various groups within the church who had developed a variety of priorities and pursuits other than LOVE (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
- To those pursuing more spiritual experience, he said, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
- To those pursuing more knowledge, he said, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge … but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”
- To those pursuing more power he said, “If I had such faith that I could move mountains but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”
- To those pursuing acts of heroism he said, “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
As interesting and as noble as these pursuits may be, Paul was concerned that secondary things had become of primary importance. His shock statements were intended to knock them out of their complacency in order to bring everything back into proper perspective. The core of the Christian life is LOVE. This is what matters most. We all need to be reminded of this every once in a while.
So tomorrow begins a series of BLOG posts reminding us of The Priority of LOVE – Original Love.