Monday, October 23, 2006

Contemplation #202
Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

The simplest of measures is this one from Paul. What we are doing, can we say that it is an expression of love? Every action, thought, word, and ambition that is not love must be abandoned and replaced by works that convey love. While this rule of life is pure in bringing us to the imitation of God, it is very impractical. As long as we choose to be practical and reasonable the way of God will remain beyond us. The love of God is extravagant, radical, and totally at odds with any notion of what is prudent. It is not advisable to love one’s enemies and insane to treat all others better than oneself, for who will look out for me if I don’t protect my own interests? To love in an unloving world is to invite disaster, and any who choose this path put themselves at risk.

Contemplation #203
If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. 1 Corinthians 16:22

The anathema or curse has been taken by Jesus so that it might be removed from us (Galatians 3:13). However, so strong is the injunction to love, so crucial and essential the practice of love for God to the life of all who would be a disciple of Jesus, that the curse remains on those who do not love. We cannot imagine that Paul is vindictively or eagerly pronouncing a curse as an act of religious spite or censure born out of malice. He is, however, clearly and pointedly reminding us of the importance of love for God, which of course leads to the love of all that is God’s, all people, our enemies, life, and creation. We must be soberly warned not to neglect the cultivation of love in all things.

Contemplation #204
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen. 1 Corinthians 16:24

Paul’s final word of this letter is a blessing of love which he extends to all the Corinthians. To be in the fellowship of God’s Spirit as believers is to share in love in Christ Jesus. To say that our love is in Christ Jesus is more than to simply declare that we are members of the same group, that we are loving each other because we are all “in Jesus” as Christians. Our love for one another is not a love of those like ourselves or who have similar aspirations. Then our love would be of no different in nature from the affinity that Rotarians might share for each other. Our love is a divine love, modeled by Christ, gifted to us in Christ, both through and by the incarnate Son. Our love is a divine incarnation which is mediated only by Christ. As our lives are caught up in him, our love becomes his love.