Those who follow this blog know I don’t identify as a Christian, which is not to say that I don’t believe in God or Jesus. I think of God as Divine Love, not as a male, and not as a father figure. If you do, by all means, believe as you choose or don’t believe at all. We can still be friends!
Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, I am an ordained minister. I have read the Bible through several times, attended Bible studies, led Bible studies, and been to several varieties of churches. I never found my place. Yeshua (Jesus) never found His place in the church world either. Sure, He spoke from the pulpit at the synagogue a few times, at least that is what the Bible says, but for the most part, He shared His brand of spirituality with the common folk, one on one, or from a hillside pulpit.
I Corinthians 13, called the Love Chapter by some, has always been a favorite of mine. Paul, formerly called Saul, is given credit for the chapter. Chapter 13 is part of a letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. The letter, in its entirety, is a gentle reprimand for their behavior. It begins with:
I may speak in the tongues of men, even angels;
but if I lack love, I have become merely
blaring brass or a cymbal clanging
I may have the gift of prophecy,
I may fathom all mysteries, know all things,
have all faith — enough to move mountains;
but if I lack love, I am nothing.
Chapter 13 from I Corinthians is often used as part of wedding ceremonies, and rightfully so. Marriage requires a holy love that is described in the following words:
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures.
(The Complete Jewish Bible)
And yet, though these words are necessary for successful marriages, applying them to other relationships in our lives just makes good sense. If people actually practiced this kind of love, wars, violence, or abuses would cease to exist – marriages wouldn’t end, relationships wouldn’t fail, nor would estrangements occur. Applying these words to any relationship requires commitment from both parties. Lopsided relationships usually fail.
The love Paul wrote about is the ideal, the goal. When we make it our goal, we are committing to practice the qualities of love. Sometimes we forget that loving ourselves first is as important as loving others. If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others. Which brings us back around to the first few lines of the letter. If we do not love, we are nothing but noise. The choice is ours…..