The Ties that Bind: If I Have Not Love…

IF I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…

I’m all noise, with no music in my soul or in my life. I can be a Know-It-All and a Right-Believer, even (no, especially) in Jesus, but have not love, do not do love, share love, I’m like a song without a beat, a symphony without rhythm, a poem without rhyme!  More or less, that’s what Paul wrote centuries ago. Not to couples, or families, but to the Church at Corinth. There, folks claiming to follow Jesus’ way were stuck on having their own way. Folks were so hung-up on everybody else believin’ and behavin’ their way, they couldn’t find Jesus’ way. Some folks said, “Let’s just add the Jesus Way to all our old ways. Embrace them all. It’s so much easier, what with tryin’ to live in this modern day!” Why, you couldn’t tell the Christians from the vaguely religious or the pretty much ungodly. So Paul wrote them and said. “Let me tell you about the LOVE WAY. IT IS The JESUS WAY!” Little wonder that when we want to share a Family Day, a Marriage Day, a Faith Day, we’d try to learn what love has to say.  It won’t make us perfect. ‘Won’t make family or faith-life easy. ‘Won’t root out every wrong or evil. But it WILL shine a light that shows us how our hearts and our feet might go. Go to love. Love. LOVE.

Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago) says something about us and our world that applies to our personal world and our most intimate relationships. “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Jesus. Perhaps, only Jesus. Here’s the rub. Love and unloving are inside us. Dreams and dreads. Fulfillment, disillusion and disappointment. If we are ever to be filled with God, filled with love, like Christ, we will have to empty it all out. What anger or envy would you need to set aside in your marriage, your family, your soul? What hurt or pride would we need to dismiss? What insistence on our own way would you need to give up or give over? What security or misplaced affection in things or people would we need to surrender? But who here’s willing to destroy a piece of his/her own heart? Anyone else but Jesus? No wonder we are saved to follow him! Now, our Holy God can’t long abide the presence of the unholy. A law of physics applies here: no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. A spiritual law: Holiness and sin can’t both rent the apartment of your soul at once! The cross of Christ is heaven’s way of showing us to clear-the-soul, to make room, to choose the holy. “My Body broken,” says Christ:  uncluttered. The Cup, “poured out for… many:” emptied. It is to such a personal life we are called. And to relationships that reflect and reveal this every day. DO take heart. That doesn’t mean your every day will look like the cross on Jesus’ last day. We’re not aiming to be crucified, but sanctified. Not martyred but MADE NEW. O, we can describe what it might look like. Paul gives us the words! For him, for us, in Christ, here’s what we’re aimin’ for.

We wait for each other to come-around, like Jesus waits for us. And with the same gift: kindness. In Christ, you see: at home, in the car, even when the kids act-up… or your in-laws… love is patient and kind; love wastes no time worrying about being #1, or showing off like you are. ‘See, love is not jealous or boastful. All arrogance is out.  And manners? No problem. Afterall, real love lives in the manner of Jesus. Brace yourself. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. OK, that’s not easy. But both really stem from holding onto what’s wrong, instead of what’s right, “what’s up”, instead of who God let down from heaven to lift us up.  Love “puts up with” sometimes, because “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles!” Here’s a thing to remember in marriage and family alike. Love won’t fall for just anything because it knows enough to stand up for something… for those we love, and Christ above all! ‘Turns out, as long as we have Christ in our hearts, well, we never run out of hope, or the chance to choose to ‘hold on”. ‘Truth is, we don’t know everything, just now. We don’t need to. We know the ONE thing that really matters above all else. “God was in Christ, hugging the world and still hugging us to Himself!” That’s not ever going to change. So even when that day comes when we stand before the One who knows our secrets, our private ones, our family ones, our best and worst ones, why, Faith will last, and Hope and Love (when we love Jesus and love like him) That’s the BEST! So, put love first and you’ll be SOMETHING, in this world of friendship, marriage, family and faith. And you’ll be something in the next world, too!

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