Monday, June 15, 2020

Childish Things

Do you ever read a Bible passage and wonder why it appears in the place it does?  There is such a passage embedded in the "love chapter" of 1 Corinthians 13.  Yes ... that's the passage that talks about how love is beautiful and difficult.  Beautiful because it is forgiving, non-judgmental, enduring and eternal.  Difficult because it requires the lover to be forgiving, non-judgmental, persistent, faithful and long-suffering.  In the middle of this wonderful expression of what love is like, Paul seems to 'chase a rabbit' about seeing clearly and growing up.  Why does this suddenly appear and why is it relevant to life on June 15th, 2020?  Here's my take.

There are at least three things happening here. The first thing is Paul's reflection about how we see and have knowledge in this world.  In the midst of people shouting protests, their politicized solutions, their reactive actions, I wonder if Paul is reminding us how we don't naturally see things like we should.  We don't see as clearly as our partisan politics imply.  We don't understand as clearly as our ideologies profess.  We must learn and be taught to go beyond our reactions to reflection and response.  What does God's word say about this?  Would God be honored if we react out of passion or would God be more honored if we loved Him with our mind and actually stopped reasoning like a child (1 Cor. 13:11)?  All of the people I see on TV and many who I meet in community are plenty passionate about their position.  If passion is the litmus test for solutions and reasoning, why are so many of God's people reaching such vastly different solutions?  The first four verses of 1 Corinthians 13 tell us that expressing life vigorously and passionately without the motive of love are only empty sounds meaning nothing.  Maybe passion that is not informed by Jesus' words isn't the be-all-end-all we have been told?  Philippians 2:5 says to "put on the mind of Christ!"  That mind will not be divided, divisive or destructive!  Realize we don't see as clearly as we think.  Suppress reaction. Engage reflection.  Implement a God-led response!

The second thing Paul's word reminds us is that we must actively give up the things that lack Christian maturity.  "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man I put the ways of childhood behind me (1 Cor. 13:11)."   Maybe Paul is saying that growing up takes energy, effort, long-suffering, non-judgment and faithfulness (did you see how I cleverly connected this to the 1st part of 1 Cor. 13 ... or maybe that's why these words are together).  Childish ways come naturally and we see it reflected all over the nation today.  Maturity takes actively giving up our childish reasoning so we can go deeper into a love that endures.

The third thing is to acknowledge that we only know in part.  We are not experts on solutions.  So ... how will we love, endure and keep our perspective during the difficult days ahead?  We look at some last words in John's Gospel that remind us that we will have frustrations about what happens to others, but that we have a solid foundation upon which to base our actions.  It is not feelings.  It is not passion (all of the people spouting their pet philosophies are very passionate).  It is not politics.  In John 21 Jesus tells Peter ... "Follow!"  In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul expresses/warns us of a world that will profess wisdom and call Christ's words "foolish."  Paul says that "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom (1 Cor. 1:25)."  One of the childish things we must give up is the reliance on thinking and reasoning as children.  That is what the world does ... what we do is follow, put on the mind of Jesus, and we (in humility) struggle toward a mature love for God, others and ourselves.  That's my take ... what do you think?  Randy

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