The Corinthian church would have fit very nicely into modern day America. The sins that had crept into the congregation would make a heathen blush. Bickering among the members had disrupted the unity that the Lord died to establish. The time had long past for them to grow up, but they had not. Spiritual babies arguing instead of mature Christians cooperating. Legal issues hounded them. Unimaginable immorality sat on their pews. These were God’s people? Yes, they were.
They apparently bore few of the characteristics of followers of Jesus. Their growth was stunted. They were blessed with a wide range of miraculous gifts but missed the matters that truly count. They had flash without substance. It is easy to do. They were not the first to wade into the shallow end of the Lord’s expectations without plunging into the deep waters (Matthew 23:23).
Paul led them to the mountaintop. The perspective is different there. It was a remarkable experience to be an apostle or prophet. Specially endowed teachers were a great blessing to the church. Miracles, healings and tongue speaking were impressive. No one had all of those abilities, but they were fundamentally significant in reaching the mountaintop (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). God had something much better in mind (1 Corinthians 13).
Tongue speaking, even of the angelic kind, is irrelevant if we do not discern that which is most important. If we know all about the mysteries of God and our faith can shake the mountains, we are worthless unless our journey is down the more excellent way. If we give up our possessions to look after the poor and sacrifice our lives, we are going nowhere without this quality in our lives. It is the target for which we must all take aim.
Love. It seems too simple, but it is the defining characteristic of Christians. It is not confined to an elite, specially trained group within the Lord’s church. Anyone can and everyone is expected to love. In addressing the divided immoral church in Corinth, Paul exposed their childish behavior and led them to the superiority of love. It is the antithesis of immaturity. That shows us who the grown up Christians are.
For God so loved the world…It is among the first verses that we ever learn. It is not even necessary to cite book, chapter and verse because of its universal familiarity. His love prompted the sending of His Son who lived by that principle. He showed us love. Jesus left an example for disciples to follow (John 13:34). That includes us (Ephesians 5:2). When we walk by the Spirit, He produces love in our lives (Galatians 5:16-23). The demonstration and involvement of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit relating to love show its importance to God.
Nothing will change our lives like a commitment to love. Love God. Love our neighbor. The Lord will shine through us when we do, and we all can.