Sunday October 6, 2002 | Greg Boyd
1 If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body [to hardship] that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 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. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This message continues with the theme of discovering what love looks like by turning to I Cor. 13, where we looked at what it means that love is “kind.” Greg used Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible entitled “The Message” to help us get at the idea of kindness. Peterson describes how love is kind in this way: “Love cares more for others than itself.”
This message continues with the theme of discovering “what love looks like” by turning to I Cor. 13. Last week we saw that love is “patient.” This week, we will look at what it means that love is “kind.” Greg used Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible entitled “The Message” to help us get at the idea of kindness. Peterson describes how love is kind in this way: “Love cares more for others than itself.” For clarity on how radical this message really is, Greg offered us this formula:
Words, beliefs, and deeds without patience and kindness are worthless.
The only thing that gives worth to words, beliefs and deeds is love.
Then Greg challenged us: Do we really believe this? Our religious spirit responds “oh this is so fundamental! So obvious, so elementary…yes, yes, love, love, move on, move on…” But if it really were obvious and elementary, it would also be readily present in our midst. We have to ask ourselves, why is love, patience, and kindness so absent? Why aren’t we as a Church known for it? Why do we place so much emphasis on other things like correct doctrine and behavior but we really don’t emphasize love?
Greg then discussed the first miracle Jesus did. This miracle is puzzling because it doesn’t seem important, or terribly necessary in the global scheme of things. Why worry about some wedding running out of wine? Why not use this power to heal a blind man or cure an illness? But Jesus cared about this man about to be embarrassed by the awkward situation at an important celebration. Jesus was kind and took care of the problem. There was no ulterior motive, no strings attached, simply kindness.
This was followed up by the question: how can we as a church be kind in our region? How can we manifest Christ’s kindness to those around us? One way we try to do this is through our “Random acts of kindness” events. When you see those come up every other week or so, prayerfully consider participating! We hope to offer much more to the community as resources allow. Services like: seminars, trainings, labor, etc…. just because it is the kind thing to do.
As with patience, we cannot become kind by trying harder, rather we must be free to be kind. What does this mean? We live out of our identity in Christ as the center and source for our whole being. For more on this, see the previous two sermon series. If we don’t get life from Christ, we will try to take it from others and we will do things that LOOK kind, but really serve to benefit ourselves. True kindness recognizes the infinite worth of another human being and simply chooses to bless that person or group of people in some way: no strings attached, no other motive, simply kindness. Greg reviewed the fact that the church history has often failed to demonstrate the kindness of Christ to the world. In fact, we often manifest the opposite. We were taught to love our enemies, but we killed and tortured them. We went from being persecuted to being persecutors; from laying down our lives to taking life from others. Greg discussed how this legacy of bloodshed in our background is in many ways worse than the heresies the church killed people over! He wondered if this was a case of misunderstanding the warfare theme in the Bible. We know that our fight is NOT against flesh and blood but ONLY against spiritual powers. We are NOT to take up weapons of this world. All people are people that we are fighting FOR not against.
Greg suggested that we follow Peterson’s interpretation: “Go after a life of love (kindness!) like your life depends on it—because it does.” Kindness does not mean that you become a push-over and let others take advantage of you. It does not mean you lack boundaries. It means that you are free to act without considering what’s in it for you. You genuinely care about others, and go out of your way to benefit another without expecting anything back. It does not mean acting kind so that you will be thought of as kind, or rewarded. As Greg put it: “Kindness is simply the gentle, gracious ability to give yourself away.”