Everywhere church consultants and researchers are advocating ways to grow, change, and move the church forward.
- “Follow These 3 Principles”
- “4 Actions for Growth”
- “5 Steps to Change”
In addition, products are offered, seminars are touted, consultation is pitched. Everyone recognizes a problem and promises a solution. What if there is something more foundational and fundamental, than what is being written about and sold today?
What if church growth, change, and ministry were boiled down to one key accomplishment? What if we could identify the one secret to vitality? What if we could put our finger on the one linchpin that would ignite a movement?
Not to sound overly trite or simplistic, but I know the one ingredient that will change the church and impact people’s lives, more than anything else. What is it?
Yes, that’s it. Love. I know you were probably anticipating, if not expecting, something else. I know it seems outdated and used up. I know it appears too childish. But . . .
Love is the leading indicator of Jesus’ presence in church (and our relationships). Anything else is a distant second. Without love the church is sunk. Without love it dies a thousand deaths.
The world may forget what we say, but they will never forget how we love.
First Corinthians 13 is the quintessential text on love. It is often recited at weddings, painted on wall-hangings, and memorized by believers. First Corinthians 13 paints word pictures that unearth the meaning, motives, and maturing of love—Christ-like love. Love that characterizes God’s church. Love that is deeper and broader than the love sung about in sentimental songs. This love is real. It changes the world. It’s the hallmark of church as Jesus intended.
The rough and scholarly apostle Paul wrote with emotion and passion as he penned 1 Corinthians 13. He sandwiched this poetic masterpiece between a discussion of spiritual gifts (Chapter 12) and the phenomena of speaking in tongues (Chapter 14). Church stuff. Why? Because no matter how talented we are or how gifted our church; or how spiritual we sound or ecstatic our church, when love is absent the heart of Christianity is lost. Love trumps spiritual exploits, jubilant faith, and miracle-working power. Love ignites a church and causes others to come witness the flames.
The Corinthian believers were not getting along with each other. Like many churches today, unfortunately, they experienced disunity. They had people problems. A lot of finger pointing and blame was happening. For the first twelve chapters of his letter, Paul cited one example after another of how competitive and quarrelsome the church had become. As a result, the Corinthian church was wracked with division and polarized into factions. Meetings were tense, feuding was commonplace, and strife ran rampant. Their witness was tarnished. Sound familiar?
Non-Christians were saying: if that is what the church is all about, then “no thank you.” Something was amiss. Something was terribly wrong. Something was out of balance and out of line. They may have talked about love but they were not practicing love. Instead of “loving” people, they were “abusing” people. Fighting and quarrels were occurring, without punches being thrown, but with verbal blows. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the gospel that Jesus proclaimed. It appalled Paul. He was writing to put a stop to it.
Paul informed them of a better way to live; a better way to treat their brothers and sisters, a better way to show the world true Christianity. And that way is to love.
Today, too many Christians and churches exist without love. That’s why 1 Corinthians 13 needs to be read, understood, and obeyed. Then, our churches will be enriched, like God intended, enriched with his love. Love is the heart of Christianity that changes the world.
Remember, the world may forget what we say, but they will never forget how we love. Discover how love can impact your church in my new eBook Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. Imagine the impact if everyone in your church read, understood, and obeyed the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13.
Follow these links to purchase your copy: