The Love Test, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Plymouth First United Methodist Church, February 2, 2020
Reverend Mike Dixon
Please pray with me: Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. Amen.
When I was a kid, I remember a time when my mother decided to make up some chocolate nut fudge or something very tasty like that. She had all these wonderful ingredients assembled on her kitchen counter, all these lovely smells wafted around the room, she was busy whipping something up on the stove.
I checked it out - and discovered that it was a pan half full of this lovely chocolate sauce and so I did what all normal children would have done - I asked for a taste. Mother told me that I could have some when it was ready - but I of course put on a sad little face and said, just a little taste please. She then told me I wouldn't like it but I didn't believe her - I mean what was there not to like - lovely chocolate sauce - just a little spoonful - and so, relenting, she gave me a taste.
It was awful. It was bitter. It wasn't like chocolate at all. Yet it looked like chocolate and my mother assured me, as she laughed at my puckered-up face - that it was all chocolate and nothing but chocolate. And that was the problem with it was nothing but chocolate. It lacked something very essential to make it taste really good - it lacked Sugar.
You ever had that happen to you? Have you ever taken a nice big bite out of a chunk of chocolate - and discovered - phhhh it really is nothing but chocolate?
Well - if you have - you know something about the church in the wild and how the wacky city of Corinth was like some of the believers in Corinth were extremely excited about their faith, there were people with tremendous gifts in the community, there were teachers and healers and those who could speak in tongues, there were those who could lead in worship and there were preachers, there were those who had the ministry of helps, others who could prophecy, the word of God was proclaimed every day, folk prayed, the gospel message itself was wonderful - the word that said that Jesus had Risen from the Dead and that all who believed in him would receive forgiveness for their sins and live eternally in his heavenly kingdom with him, everything you needed for a vital church was happening in their midst - but for one thing!
The church failed the taste test.
It didn't have enough sugar in it.
It didn't have enough love in it.
The thirteenth chapter of Corinthians is probably the favorite wedding text of all time. I think every wedding couple in the Christian world has it read during the wedding ceremony - and with good reason - it is a wonderful chapter.
But when Paul wrote it - he wasn't thinking a whole lot about weddings nor was he even really trying to describe what love is like - though he does do that - rather he was trying to show the Corinthians that, in the end, nothing matters more than the answer to the question - are you living out the love of Christ?
Love - the kind of love that God has for us - is the yardstick, measure, and norm, of our faith. The folk in Corinth seemed a little lacking in something in the love Department, - despite all the wonderful things that were going in their Midst, - despite all the spiritual wisdom that seemed to be around the Place, - despite all the faith that folk claimed to have.
There were some strange things going on - like the man who was sleeping with his stepmother and the two elders who had dragged
each other off to court instead of making peace with one another; - and some folk really didn't behave all that well at the meals that
they held in memory of Jesus: some ate too much, some drank too much, others went hungry; then too - and this was very troubling –
there were public disagreements about which of the apostles and teachers who had come to Corinth were the best - which were worst;
- and there were some folk who believed that their contribution to the community of faith was more significant than the contributions being made by others - that their views on things should be considered first because of that, - while others felt like they weren't important to God or the church at all because they didn't have the gifts, or the talents, or the wealth to offer that they thought they should have.
Think of what Chapter 13 says; It doesn't matter if you have faith enough to say to a mountain - move - and it moves -if you have not love - you are nothing. It doesn't matter if you can speak out for God - if you know all mysteries - and can heal all diseases - and do so - if have not love - it avails you not.
You have heard it before my friends - probably from every preacher, pastor, or priest you've ever listened to but hear it again - and
hopefully - hear it fresh.
Love is the test of our faith. Folks know we are Christians by our love and they know that we are something less than fully Christian - by our lack of it.
This failure of the love test in this matter was not universal of course, not even those believers who failed that particular love test, fail
the love test in other matters.
But some of the time is still significant - for them - and for us.
We do fail the test of love some of the time, don't we?
As individuals - and as a church?
And we should be concerned about that - we shouldn't take our lapses lightly - should we?
Notice I say "our lapses" - because it is about us - that the love test is all about.
It is not for me to judge you - or for you to judge me -rather it is for us to look at ourselves - and ask -am I focused on Christ our on myself?
Am I showing the love of God to others - doing what Jesus would do - and allowing Jesus to work through me? - or am I allowing my
feelings, my frustrations, my needs, my pride, my talent, to dominate my interactions with others?
LOVE IS THE TEST OF OUR FAITH -
IT IS THE TEST OF OUR COMMUNITY
AND IT IS THE TEST OF EACH ONE OF OUR LIVES
We are concerned - we do care - we do use the gifts we have to build up the body and not simply to bring glory to ourselves - or so I believe.
This month is known as “the LOVE month”. Those who feel the love of this special month will make sure there are Valentines sent to all
loved ones, and some strangers.
Young couples will make sure something special is given to that Special One! Some will fall in love, some will get married in this month, like Deb and I did. We thought why not? It is the love month and after all we do love each other. I am sure you have your stories about this month and what it is to you.
So, if we know how to present special gifts and do special things to that special one, or ones, why don’t we now take the Love test?
All you have to do is listen and answer to yourself, that way no one will know if you pasted or failed.
Let us take the test!
- Do we compare what we do for the church to what others are - or are not doing?
- Do we ever speak out about how some folk just seem to take up space -as if somehow the value of what we are doing is greater than what they are doing?
- Do we ever think some folk here are better than we are - and some worse?
- Do we call down some of our neighbors and praise up others?
- Do we treat those who are slower than we are with impatience and less reverence?
- and last, those who are quicker than us or more well connected than us – with more reverence?
There is always more growing to do my friends, more growing in faith and love is the test of just how much growing there is for us to do.
When you confess Christ as your Lord, God comes and abides in you and gives you the ability to abide in Him to abide in his love – one
minute, one hour, one day at time.
Turn to God - ask his help to pass the love test - each minute of each day - ask his help to abide in him as He abides in you.