The great challenge of this passage for me is that it is the passage of Scripture that I preached my first sermon on in 1985 to a crowd of five people. I have preached it many times since but the challenge of finding something new in it particularly engaging. Truth is it is not a complicated passage at all and there is a lot in it. This time though the focus for me was to get people to make a choice to embrace this kind of love or ultimately reject it. The love explained and described here is some of the strongest language in the Bible about what love is an d requires so it is best to pay attention.
The passage starts with the value of love. Without love in the sense that the Bible describes is all that we could do in any human endeavor is a waste of time. We can be a speaker for God and without love it we are just making noise, we can understand the universe in all ways and it would do us no good without love, we can do charitable acts and without love it will be for nothing. Love is what gives all things value otherwise they are simply going to fade or be worthless.
The passage describes love. Each description is important but the love of the Bible as described here is nothing like the love the world describes. Love in the world is always reciprocal and means things are perfect and flawless in some way but the Biblical definition of love assumes things will be difficult. Patience assumes there is waiting, not keeping a record of wrongs assumes wrongs will be committed, enduring all things assumes there is something to endure and so on. Love continues to love despite obstacles and difficulties. It tries to find the truth and live in grace and forgiveness. This takes risk.
Finally there is a mystery to love in that we love often without seeing the whole picture or fully understanding why. To love facing an unknown future and looking forward only to the day of being. There is an unknown factor to real love that makes it superior even to hope and faith. One day I will not need hope or faith but love I will still need. It is the hope of this future that makes love one of those things that requires brave actions.
In many ways to embrace this kind of love is like taking the training wheels off a bike. All other forms of love have safety to them in that risk is minimized and they have boundaries we create to keep us safe. God’s love is not like this at all it risks and risks big. The value however it great and the potential so large that taking the training wheels off is well worth the risk. God will take you to greater heights and call you to greater things the more you embrace it. it starts however with taking the training wheels off and taking the risk of love. The cross roads is clear: keep the wheels on and be safe but sorry your life has no value or take them off and risk love in fullness and watch where God takes you.