Yesterday we finished a sermon series in 1 Corinthians which has spanned two summers. Last summer we looked together at chapters 1-11, and this summer at chapters 12-16.
The final chapters of Paul’s letters often look like a mish-mash of loose ends with no real connection. Certainly chapter 16, on which I preached yesterday morning, seems that way (we can listen to the sermon here
). I felt that in the context of the letter, 16:14 was the key verse – “Let all that you do be done in love”. It was a lack of love which was the root of all the Corinthian church’s many problems. That’s why Paul says in 8:1, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”. That’s why Paul wrote chapter 13 as a stinging rebuke exposing the Corinthians' lack of love. And that’s why he closes his letter with a call to do all things in love.
In particular, Paul wants Emmanuel Corinth, and by implication Emmanuel Wimbledon to love in this way:
Love other churches practically - verses 1-4
Love our leaders publically - verses 5-18
Love our Lord Jesus passionately - verses 19-23
Of those three, the last is the most important, and from where all other love flows. In terms of why we should love our Lord Jesus, I quoted a poem by Francis Xavier, a 16th Century missionary to Japan, India and Indonesia. One or two people have asked for the poem, so here it is:
My God, I love Thee; not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
Are lost eternally.
Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails, and spear,
And manifold disgrace,
And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
Yea, death itself; and all for me
Who was thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Nor of escaping hell;
Not from the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord.
So would I love Thee, dearest Lord,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my most loving King.
Francis Xavier, 1506-1552
Translated by Edward Caswall, 1814-1878
Have a good week knowing how much you are loved and loving well. I hope to see you at the church prayer meeting this Wednesday evening.