Stories can be so compelling, and on Sunday we heard some pretty incredible ones. In the process of hearing all the good that’s happening amidst the seemingly insurmountable evil that’s been done, we were reminded that good works can not come without God and that we cannot participate in them without sanctification. In Isaiah 1:17 we were reminded that as Believers we must strive to “…cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” and in Micah 6:8 it says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” But how do we get to this place of authentic participation with Christ?
Many of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians chapter 13- we hear it at weddings, paraphrased on bumper stickers or signs, and have probably read it many times ourselves. For a passage that’s more rehearsed than most, you’d think we’d actually live it out quite well- but we often don’t. Did we forget our lines? Did we miss our cue?
No matter how young or old we are in our faith, I believe most of us still wrestle with the chronic issue of stage fright.
Many of us know the “right” things to say and have the movements mastered down- go to church, donate money, volunteer, etc. but when it comes down to it, we don’t actually know what we’re doing. At some point in our faith we start giving into the lie that says, “I’ve got this” and we stop seeking advice from our stage director. We memorize what we’ve seen the Christian culture tell us to do or even what we’ve read in our Bible, but when we get on stage, we freeze when faced with the reality of pain and brokenness. We need more than memorization and replication; this world needs more.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Now more than ever, in light of all the injustice that’s coming to our attention, it can be so tempting to jump on stage because we think we’ve got our lines down, but Christ tells us and models for us over and over that love must be the force behind all that we do, because love is the force behind anything and everything that God declares good. What does it require of us to do the good things Christ has always intended for us to do? 1 Corinthians 16:13 gives us a good place to start, reminding us to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, be strong and let all that we do be done in love. As we each work out our salvation in the unique stories God was woven together for us, let us never forget to, “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14).