In thinking back on the last conversation, it seemed to me that we actually stayed within ourselves as “friends” better in talking about different perspectives of prophecy (which can be such a divisive issue) than we did in dealing with the role and meaning of love.
Ironically, sometimes love can be so intuitive that even a little child can recognize it. But then there are those times—when, in the middle of talking about something that we regard as “a can of worms”, it takes a bit of work to try and connect the dots– to see what we’ve lost sight of.
For example, here are some of the dots I try to connect when I realize that things are getting a bit messy in the middle of irritable conversations about love. Seems important to me that when Paul wrote that the whole law could be summed up in one word (Gal 5:14), he didn’t stop there (Gal 5:22-23).
In another letter, and while dealing with a whole series of “in house quarrels” he was even more specific about the kind of love that was desperately needed. Insisting that all religious talk and action is empty noise unless done in a very specific way, he went on to describe the kind of love he meant when he wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1Cor 13:4-7).
Admittedly, these are just words that appear in one paragraph of the ongoing story. They don’t give us the whole picture. We can still honestly wonder, “Yes, but what does patience look like in different situations? And isn’t one person’s patience counting to 10 to avoid self-destructing, or even just avoiding–rather than enduring for the sake of love? And what about kindness? Can’t one person’s kindness be another person’s cruelty?” There’s an old proverb that says something like that (Prov 12:10).
Am thinking that it’s in those times, when we lose our way, and sense that there’s something incomplete about our understanding of Christ-like love that we need to stop and do the work of connecting the dots between the marks of Christ actions (John 13:12-18); his love (John 15:13; John 19:16-18); wisdom (James 3:13-18) and results (Gal 5:22-23).
Somewhere, between the dots, there is the kind of love that we all long for—and that, even at this late date—as it comes into focus–can help us to avoid bringing out the worst in one another while talking about current events, the Bible, Jesus, the Spirit, prophecy, or anything else that is worth thinking about.
PS The picture above is taken from a plaque that I keep on my desk. Some people see strange looking hieroglyphs. Others see something else. Turns out to be a matter of perspective.