Exploring the meaning of life…

Posts tagged ‘1 Corinthians 13:1-13’

When that which is perfect has finally come…

Today I found myself humming  an old hymn that we used to sing in our church when I was young – “He lives.”  It’s funny how many times we can sing a song and never really pay attention to the words.  Here are some of the words:

“I serve a risen Saviour                                      
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living
no matter what men say.

I see His hand in mercy,
I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him,
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.” Alfred Ackley

Like me, you may have heard many sermons about what it means to “walk with God.”  The Bible says that Enoch and Adam both walked with God, but what does that really mean?  Some will say that it is a literal translation – that God walked beside each one of these men here on earth.  Others will say that it is a metaphor for having a close, loving relationship with God.  Perhaps they are both right, but it has come to mean something else to me.

Years ago, a close friend of mine wrote an essay that I just couldn’t understand at the time.   He talked about what happens when a student and that which he studies become one in the same. I thought this was an absurd idea!  Was he saying that if we study history long enough, we become history?  That didn’t make any sense to me.  If we study math, do we become math?  I’ve actually thought about it many times over that last couple of decades and finally realized that he meant this in the spiritual realm only, not in the physical “real” world around us.  In that context, it finally made sense to me.  How wonderful to reach a time in our lives when we become one and the same with God – when we no longer know where we stop and God begins!  Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, “The Father and I are One?”  Every now and then, I have a brief and fleeting moment in which I comprehend what Jesus meant.  I catch sight of what it means to love God so completely that there is nothing else but love.  In that moment, everything makes sense and is so glorious that there are no words to describe it.

The Apostle Paul wrote that we only know in part now – we are limited by our earthly minds.  We can’t comprehend the whole story yet, but someday we will.  Paul goes on to say that when that which is perfect has finally come, we are whole and our parts cease to be.  That is when the student and that which he studies become one.  And the brief and fleeting moments when I have experienced that continue to lead me to a full realization of what that will be like.  For me, that is what is meant by “heaven.”

Have a happy journey!  

Above all – we must have love!

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
    And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1

Paul writes that we can have the most eloquent speech imaginable, but if we don’t have love, it will sound like clanging cymbals.  We can have the faith to move mountains, but without love we may miss the significance of life.  We can give to others and sacrifice our very lives, but without love, it is futile.  Those are strong words!

I think people get hung up sometimes doing “the work of God.”  They spend their time “doing” for the church, taking part in many ministeries and believe they are accomplishing God’s work.  But, no matter how many church activities we are in, without love for others, we fall short of who God has created us to be.  Paul understood this and wanted to make it plain to everyone: If you don’t serve with love, you are just making a loud noise. 

 I remember a dream that I had a few years ago.  In that dream, I was standing behind a stage curtain and was expected to deliver an hour-long speech on love.  I was frantic.  I kept making excuses to the stage manager: I can’t talk that long on any subject!  I don’t know enough about love to be speaking about it!  I don’t have any notes to go by!  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I knew immediately that it was the hand of God.  He said to me, “You have it all inside of you already.  I already prepared you to talk about love.  You don’t need any notes…it’s INSIDE of you!  Just start talking and I will do the rest.”

As my dream ended, I was walking to the stage.  I still didn’t know what I was going to say, but I knew that God would help me find the answers deep inside of me.  Then I woke up.  I immediately understood the dream, that above everything else, God wanted me to search inside my soul for the love that passeth all understanding.  I try to walk that path every day.

Now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13

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