Friends in the Community,
Greetings to each and every one of you from God our loving heavenly Father and our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that all of you are doing well this week.
We like to compare ourselves to other people. We like to look at other people’s lives and look for ways that our lives of the people around us and how our lives are different from other people around us. Most of the time, when we make these comparisons, we try to find reasons that our lives are better than other people’s. We tend to think that we have made better choices or have done better things than other people have done.
Is this what God wants us to do? Does God want us to make comparisons between ourselves and others? Does God want us to find ways to elevate ourselves over others? Does God want us to see ourselves as being better than our neighbors? Does God create and call us to live in a different way?
To answer these questions, I want to lift up one of the most famous chapters in the entire Bible. That chapter is 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is the one chapter I have read at more weddings than I can count. We often think that Paul is discussing the ways that people who love each other should treat one another and how love is the one thing two people who want to spend their entire lives together should have.
This is not entirely wrong. Love is very important for people to share if relationships are going to grow and flourish. It is imperative for people to share unconditional love with one another and be willing to forgive one another unconditionally just as God has forgiven each and every one of us unconditionally through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul is not necessarily just addressing newlyweds with this passage. Paul is addressing a community that is in conflict. He is addressing a community where people are comparing themselves to one another and basing their status upon who knows who or who has what. He is addressing a community where comparisons are being made, and people are concerned with being better than other people.
What does Paul tell this community? Does Paul congratulate them for their behaviors? Does he tell them to keep doing the things they have been doing? Does he tell them this is what God wants?
No, Paul tells the people of Corinth that Christians live in a different way. Christians are not concerned about being better than others. Christians are not concerned about comparing themselves to other people. Christians are concerned with valuing one another based upon the gifts and talents that God has given to everyone of His sons and daughters. Christians place this value upon one another because the first concern of Christians is building communities that model the body of Christ. The body of Christ, the Church, is made up of many members just as our bodies are made up many members. These members all have different gifts, talents, abilities, and functions, just as the parts of our bodies have different abilities and functions.
What holds this community known as the Church together? It is what holds all of us in a relationship with God. It is love. God shows His love to His children by sending Jesus into the world, and this Church is called to love as God loves. We, as members of the Church, are called to share this love with our friends, our families, and our neighbors.
Could you imagine a community where people are constantly concerned about building every person of every age and stage of life up? Could you imagine a community where everyone was only concerned about sharing God’s love each and every day with everyone with whom they came into contact? Could you imagine a community where everyone was welcome just as Jesus welcomes us?
This type of community would be pretty amazing! We, as Christians, are called to build this type of community. It is not always easy, but we know that God is always on our side when we are being the people God is calling us to be!
Have a great week!