Someone told me last week that everyone should go to a wedding with their significant other at least once a year. There’s something about the sheer joy in the day, the pure hope in a lifetime of happiness and the promise of never ending love that reignites a passion between couples. It gets them all loved up and on somewhat of a love “high”, almost to the point of wanting to create their own wedding all over again and declare their undying love for each other.
Or maybe that’s just me. I’m a bit of a romantic and I love my husband to death – it doesn’t take a wedding to give me those warm, butterfly feels in my tummy – but I do still love a good marriage celebration!
So, in light of my sister’s wedding recently (which, by the way, was possibly the BEST wedding I’ve ever been to – it was more of a festival, really, packed full of campfires, bush dancing, pulled pork sliders, a romantic light show, and a good dose of wine) I’ve decided to write about love.
At my own wedding, we had 1 Corinthians 13v4-8 read. If you haven’t read it, it’s a beautiful and quite deep look into how we can show love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
There’s this DC Talk song (old school Christian rap circa 1992!) called “Love is a verb” and this verse epitomises that. If you ever need a practical guide on how to love, read this verse again.
I know I started this blog post talking about romantic love and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from it, but I actually want to focus on practical, detrimental love. So let’s jump back to the first part of this chapter, the part where it describes how useless life is without love.
1 Corinthians 13v1-3: “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.”
Recently I moved into an area of Brisbane where there are a lot more immigrants and refugees than there are white Australians. Growing up on the north side I never thought twice about how “white” my life was. 98% of the people I interacted with on a daily basis had a fairly similar cultural experience as me and the remaining 2% were usually at school as exchange students. So this move was somewhat of a cultural shock for me, even though I was just over the river. In one 20 minute walk, I wandered past an Ethiopian cafe, an African grocer, a Chinese restaurant, a Vietnamese bakery, two Halal butchers, a Sudanese church and a mosque. I don’t think I have ever had such a culturally diverse experience in my life, and I hadn’t even left my home town.
Here’s the thing. Everything in the media today seems to be about pushing non-Australians out and keeping the “Australian way of life” just that. A lot of the garbage we read in newspapers or on the internet are scathing towards a lot of the countries represented in my new neighbourhood and, most of the time, it is completely made up just to scare us. But all of that rubbish doesn’t actually make our country any safer. We still have crime, protests, rivalries – even our government is unstable.
And that has nothing to do with the colour of skin.
Here’s the thing: Jesus hung out with tax collectors, terrorists, adulterers, widows, the poor, murderers. He loved them, regardless. Just read those last two sentences again. There is no mention of where they came from. So why should it be any different for us?
Wouldn’t we live in a safer place if we just loved, full stop?
Wouldn’t there be less political unrest if we just loved, full stop?
Wouldn’t we have more hope and less uselessness if we just loved, full stop?
The great thing is, if we just don’t know how to do it, there’s always that golden passage that I mentioned earlier.
Also, just as a little extra reminder, Paul writes about the three things that will endure in our relationship with God: Faith, hope and love – “and the greatest of these is love”.
And the greatest of these is love.
We can have faith that can move mountains, and a hope so powerful it can shake a nation, but Jesus came to show us how to love. Every time we read about Jesus or what he has said or done, we read about his love for people. This is how we should live – loving each other as we love ourselves and showing love no matter what the circumstances.