Impossible to express!
Impossible to keep!
To ponder this part of scripture with any seriousness should make us either depressed or desperate. We recognise our inability, no matter how earnest we are, in measuring up to what this Love demands and compels. Depression sets in when we try and try to meet its requirements and fail, fail, fail. To reach the desperate stage can be the beginning of living out, even tentatively, the wonder of the most excellent way. Desperation drives us to our knees and opens our hearts to trust in God’s grace. It moves us to live according to His Word. Maturity in spiritual disciplines and enjoying our Christian walk can be gauged from this moment.
Too many Christians live in spiritual denial. Unprepared to face their inconsistent spiritual life, unwilling to pay the price to change, they nod agreement to God’s commands yet walk contrary to them. 1 Corinthians 13 is for them worthwhile, yet unattainable, desirable but impractical, heavenly but not earthly reality. This attitude makes a mockery of a believer’s high calling in Christ Jesus to walk as He walked ( 1 John 2:6) However, to read the Gospels and witness Jesus in action makes us realise the most excellent way is, humanly speaking, an impossible Love.The most excellent way is not a one off experience. It is not without slips, falls and wrong turns due to our personal weaknesses. Such an impossible Love is an ongoing discovery of knowing Jesus and living out that relationship in attitude and action.
To make that an excuse for low level Christian living is to accuse God of programming us for failure. That attitude in itself doesn’t inspire a person to want to know the Lord, or to have confidence in His word. Remember, God has no pleasure in hearing His people living as ‘gongs and clanging cymbals.’ There’s no gain to Him from His investment in us if our heart’s balance sheet adds up to ‘nothing.’ It’s not His desire at the end of the day to welcome into His presence a son or daughter to tell them their Christian life has been a failure. That would mean they also miss out on any commendation or reward.
We love the unlovely because Jesus does. His Spirit makes it possible in us.We love the failed because Jesus does. Remember His love when we failed.
We love the antagonistic, indifferent, and difficult people because Jesus does.
In recent months we have witnessed or read of this impossible love being shown as Christ's people have loved the Lord and paid for it with their lives. The wonder that shines through their testimony is their forgiveness to their killers. That's the indwelling of Christ's powerful love overflowing to those who are about to murder them. Stories filter through about the impact this depth of love has had upon the lives of some of the oppressors.
We never know when we will be thrown into such a cauldron of opposition, oppression and hostility. How can we face such situations and at the same time offer love to those who hate? This means our responsibility is not to grit teeth and strive to be loving. That births disillusionment. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18) in our everyday living. His Love, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will then begin to flow ever stronger in and through us to the glory of our Lord.
God is not in the business of commanding the impossible and leaving His people to their own resources. His resources accompany His call. This means we have to be on the same wavelength with God to avail ourselves of His enabling. There are sixteen facets of the most excellent way. Their purpose let’s us recognise that we can have fellowship in its deepest, most meaningful intent. They are stressed so that the Body of Christ on earth, the Church, may bear true testimony to the Love of God. The outcome of this is life changing and a challenge to others of the love God has for us.
The most excellent way can only be known and travelled through an open, maturing, knowledgeable, devoted relationship with Jesus. What is called for in 1 Corinthians 13 is answered in 1 John 4:19. ‘We love because He first loved us.’
Ray Hawkins 2015.