So I can spend all my free time doing church. I can sacrifice all my efforts and abilities serving and teaching. I can follow all the rules. I can tithe 30 percent. I can execute the perfect missions trip. I can lead a worship service that leaves everyone weeping in the aisle. But if I don’t have love, it’s worthless? My time, my energy, my gifts futile? Could love really be that important? God says yes.
There’s a common theme through Paul’s teaching on worship and gifts in Corinthians. Worship in it’s truest form is caring for each other as God has cared for us. We shout our praise to God with the heart actions of our life . . . especially as it relates to each other within the church. There are many good things about church. You can use your gifts to organize the most effective kids program imaginable but that spectacle of your organizing superpowers is not what’s eternal. It’s the love that went behind it. You can have the cleanest, most efficiently operated church facility but it’s the love inside the building that lasts, not the building. Paul lists three things that will remain: Love, faith and hope. The greatest being love. When all else passes away, love is what remains.
Love is the great equalizer. For me, it’s the true diagnostic test in my life that helps me see what is futile and what is valuable. What’s futile is a church full of people who spend their time together talking about the church rather than loving the church. What’s valuable is a church full of people who recognize the manner in which God has loved us and seek to love each other and outsiders to the same degree.
If love is eternal why do we sacrifice each other on the alter of our own personal pursuits within the church? If we really loved the church our ministry priorities would be shaped by our heart for others rather than our own agendas of what we think church should or shouldn’t be. If we are not loving each other and loving others church has become a waste ground of washed up Christians who’ve lost sight of their first love and have become lukewarm water to their Lord Jesus.
May we never become that church. May we always seek to remember what’s to come. We see in part now, but someday we’ll see in full. What will we see then and forever? Love perfected in the face of Jesus.