Take time to rest in the comfort of the Lord today.
1 Corinthians 13 (NRSV)
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
I have always thought of this as the “wedding scripture”. I can’t think of a single time I attended a wedding when this passage was not read. I reread this text several times and I remembered a quote by Mahatma Gandhi “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I think what is missing in Christianity today is love.
I recently read a profound parable adapted from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan der Weise (1779). Excuse the lengthiness but is worth the time to read. It goes as follows:
A wealthy sultan of the Muslim faith, Saladin, once approached Nathan the Wise, a Jewish scholar, with a question: “Your reputation for wisdom is great,” said the Sultan. “You must have studied the great religions. Tell me, which is the best, Judaism, Islam, or Christianity?”
Nathan the Wise found himself in a predicament. If he answered “Judaism” his Islamic friend would be insulted, but if he answered “Islam” he would lose his own integrity. Nathan the Wise thought for a moment then responded with a parable.
“Once upon a time there was a king who possessed a magnificent opal ring. It glowed with thousands of colours, but its true power lay in the fact that it made a person beloved of God and others. For many generations the ring was passed down from parent to favourite child, until finally it came to a king who had three children all equally favoured. What was the King to do? He decided to fashion two more rings, each identical in appearance to the original. He then gave one to each child, with each believing they had the original ring.
But instead of harmony the three rings brought conflict. Each child believed they possessed the true ring and therefore the right to inherit the throne. The tension was escalated when the rings were examined but differences between them could not be determined.”
At this point Saladin interrupts. “But surely my friend you are not suggesting that Christianity, Islam and Judaism are the same? Surely there are great differences between them?”
“You are right Saladin” replied Nathan, “but each of these religions is based on faith and belief, and who can prove that one is superior to the other? But let me continue with my tale, for it is nearly at an end.”
“The quarrel among the three children became so great it was brought before a judge. The judge listened as each child explained their case. When the time for judgment came all listened with great interest. ‘I have been asked to decide which of these rings is the original.” began the judge. ‘As the original ring made its wearer beloved of God and people I can only conclude that none of you have the original ring, for your rings have brought hatred and strife between you. None of you is loved by the other, so I must conclude that the original ring perished with your father and that all three you possess are counterfeits. Or it may be, that you father, was weary of the tyranny of a single ring, and made duplicates which he gave you. So let each of you prove his belief in his ring by conducting yourselves in a manner that befits those beloved of God and people.”
Source: Adapted from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan der Weise (1779).
Do we look like Christ to the world? Maybe we do all the right things, read all the right books, and jabber all the right lingo. But if we fail to love one another then we are just a bunch of noise.
Loving and Merciful God, Fill us with the love of Christ. Mold us into Disciples that radiate the true essence of our Savior. In Christ’s Holy name, Amen.
Go with God!