Love is the Mark of the Christian

Francis Schaeffer

1 Corinthians 13
For Sunday, January 31, 2010
Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany

I’ve always admired Francis Schaeffer as an apologist and minister of the gospel for two reasons. First, he was able to see cultural patterns and make sense of them. But secondly, and more importantly, he understood a crucial point. As he put in in a fantastic booklet by the same title, “Love is the mark of the Christian.”

This is the message of 1 Corinthians 13. “If I speak in the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I am merely a blanging gong or a clanging symbol.”
As a drummer, I’m am well-acquainted with clanging cymbals, particularly when struck at just the wrong time (like just before the quiet piano solo). The Corinthian church was a clanging cymba. It was all about status. It’s like contemporary churches that are more concerned about the expansiveness of their budgets than the expansiveness of their redemptive presence in their communitity.
The Apostle Paul, the author of this book, goes on in vv. 4-7 to get wonderfully specific about the characteristics of authentic love . As he summarizes in v. 7: “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
In our ministry, are we protecting the interests of our colleagues and those entrusted to our care? Are we trusting God’s ability to bring a positive result? Are we hoping for the best even when present circumstances might seen to indicate otherwise? Are we persevering despite opposition, hurt, or misunderstanding?
I know from personal experience how hard it can be to do this especially when conflict arises between people you thought were your friends. Yet I also know that as I protect, trust, hope, and persevere, that God’s healing touch not only redeems me but moves to redeem everyone else around me.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Take a moment today to love your spouse and your kids. Take a moment to love your pastor and your church. Take a moment to love your colleagues. What greater thing today could you do for someone else much less than for your own soul?
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