2. Love is ___: 1 Corinthians
Where do you need Christ’s power to love the people in your life? The message of 1 Corinthians invites you to look at the cross.
But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
-1 Corinthians 1:23-24
When people become Christians, their behavior doesn’t instantaneously become perfect. Old vices and struggles persist, and these are especially accentuated by relationships. The Christians of Corinth were no exception. After receiving a report of problems within the Corinthian church he helped found, the Apostle Paul wrote this letter, seeking to help his readers grow in spiritual maturity.
Do you want your life and relationships to be transformed? According to Paul, the key is simple: look at Christ crucified. In response to every problem area, Paul points his audience back to Jesus’s death on the cross.
Paul first confronts the Corinthians for fracturing into followings and looking down on those who identified with a different Christian leader. Paul points out that the source of this division is pride. To humble the Corinthians, Paul directs them to the cross! The cross declares that we were not saved by God because of our knowledge and wisdom. Salvation and spiritual enlightenment are a gift, made from God’s free grace and love. The cross destroys any grounds for personal competition among Believers.
Next, Paul addresses an argument among the Corinthians: is it okay to eat meat sacrificed to pagan idols? Paul says that while eating this meat isn’t wrong in itself, it is wrong if doing so will cause nonbelievers or new Christians to mistakenly assume Christians worship other gods. Christ-like love looks out for the wellbeing of others. Lest they drag their feet, Paul again points his audience to the cross: if Christ gave his life for that person, can you not give up a meal? The cross reframes our perspective to see no sacrifice for another as too costly.
Lastly, Paul deals with an issue regarding the Corinthian church’s public gathering. Christians have been competing with one another to speak, and some have sought to steal the spotlight by praying out loud in a spiritual language unintelligible to others. Paul reminds the church that Jesus died to unite his people. Those who trust in Christ are welcomed into his family where they make up one body, in which no part is more important than another. The victory of unity, won on the cross, empowers Christians to prioritize building up others.
As seen through the message of 1 Corinthians, the cross compels us to live a life of love; but don’t we so often minimize the importance of our relationships? We lift up things like teaching the Bible to large crowds; giving to or serving with nonprofits of sizable impact; or suffering and being persecuted for our faith. But being kind to our spouse? Walking with a friend through their struggle? Practicing patience with our kids? Are these really that significant?
According to Paul, love is at the top of God’s list! He says that we can speak powerfully and eloquently about God’s Word. We can have faith that moves mountains. We can give everything we have to the poor. We can give our lives as martyrs. But if we don’t have love? We have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).
The famous words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lay out what this love looks like: Love is patient. Kind. It doesn’t envy or boast. It isn’t arrogant or rude. Love doesn’t insist on its own way. It’s not irritable or resentful. It doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing but with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Where do you need Christ’s power to love the people in your life? The message of 1 Corinthians invites you to look at the cross. The cross humbles us. Compels us to sacrifice. Unites us as the body of Christ. At the cross, we find the power to love.
RESPOND: Take a moment to ask God to help you love others today in light of the cross.