one striving for God's reign to come to earth, bringing his peace, wholeness, completeness, and health to all aspects of life.

The Greatest of these is Love

I have a thought I wanted to share from Scripture, simply because it is beautiful to me and thought someone else might appreciate it.  This is a thought pointed out by a Greek professor I had a couple years ago, so it's something I've been thinking about for a while. .

It is regarding 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.  My professor asked us what we thought Paul was getting at when he said, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  I had never really given much thought to what Paul meant when he said this, or to what God is saying to us as Christians today through these words.  If asked, I probably would have said that Paul was simply saying that faith, hope, and love were all extremely important, but that love was the greatest.  In other words, it was just a poetic way to emphasize love's exceeding importance.

However, my professor challenged us to think about why love is the greatest of these three.  In his view (and after a couple years of thought I agree with him), of these three virtues love is the greatest because it is the only one that will last.  It is the only one that, in the end, will ALWAYS remain.  There will come a day when faith is no longer necessary.  If faith is being certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11), there will come a day when faith will be obsolete, because we will see clearly.  We will see Jesus face to face.  We will know him, and he will be with us, and he will be our God.  And there will come a day when hope will no longer be necessary, for who hopes for what he already has?  On that day Revelation 21 tells us there will no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  Everything will be restored.  Shalom has returned.  Hope is no longer needed, because things are right.  But love...  Love is the greatest, because it will last.  The love we experience now is but a taste of the deep and full love we will experience for eternity, as we are loved by God with the deepest love, loved by the essence and creator of love...  And as we love him back, and love each other.  The greatest of these is love...


Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM  

Enjoyed pondering this blog. I, too, once had a college professor who spoke of love. His theory was that if you truly loved someone, you could not stop doing so. You could build up walls to protect yourself from the hurts, conflicts or lack of love in return, but you could not stop your heart from loving. Which also brings us to our love for God and my puzzlement over those who say they no longer believe, although once they did. Makes me almost understand the "once-saved, always-saved" analysis to a degree. If you've truly loved Christ and what He did for you, could you stop loving Him? You could stop the faith and hope, perhaps, of the relationship, but could you really stop the love once you were in a love relationship with Him?

Ethan Magness May 20, 2010 at 3:01 PM  

This exact point was the first sermon I ever preached. It was youth Sunday in 1989. It was one of the most significant moments of my life.

I so look forward to the day that my faith has been surpassed by sight, my hope fulfilled and my love perfected.

Kevin Bobrow May 20, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

Anonymous, I appreciate your thoughts! :) I would say that I am talking more about the fact that love in itself remains forever. And we will love for eternity, though there will no longer be any need for faith or hope. Whether we choose to love God today remains a matter of choice in my opinion. I believe that inherent in the world God has created is an utter freedom of choice for humans, even the choice to ultimately reject him. Whether we ever truly loved if we end up rejecting God's love is an irrelevant question to me, because I think love is always a choice. I truly love my wife, but I still must make the choice to love her each day, and more than in word but in deed. I am only digging the hole more, so I'll stop. But I just wanted to respond by saying that I don't really think this passage speaks to the once saved always saved issue--I just think that Paul might be saying that love is the greatest because it remains all the way until we see face to face, and beyond.

Ethan, once again you remind me in your encouraging post how meager my intellect is. I am pondering at 29 what you were preaching as a pimply-faced high schooler!! :) Just kidding. Thanks for your thought and encouragement, and I certainly long for that day as well...


Joe James May 30, 2010 at 6:32 AM  

Great thoughts, Kevin. It's also, in my opinion, to name them as virtues. Virtues give shape our character as Christians. Faith, Hope, and Love is the shape of Christian life. It's a beautiful thought that one day, Love, alone, will be the shape of that life.

Stanley Hauerwas says he doesn't reflect much on the particulars of what life after death will be. But he takes great comfort in knowing it is, in some form or another, communion - love. I do to.


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