Advent Devotional - Day 25

Wednesday, December 23
1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Let’s all be honest with each other for a second. If you’ve been to a wedding, you’ve heard this little section from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians read aloud. Love is patient. Love is kind. Yada yada yada. It’s a beautiful sentiment, full of aspirations that we’ll likely never live up to in our relationships, but it feels really good for the beginning of a new marriage as the couple sets off on a brand new chapter of their lives.

But we don’t always highlight what comes right before that grocery list of all that love is. Paul makes some pretty bold claims about the importance of love. He goes so far as to say that even if he gives away everything that he has for others and doesn’t have love, he gets nothing out of it. If he had the faith to move mountains but didn’t have love, he’d be nothing. That’s fairly bold. And yet, something tells me Paul was onto something we only dance around.

It’s 2020. There’s pain all around us. There are calls for justice and reform. There are protests and marches for equality and the recognition of the value in all of our neighbors. And in the midst of all that, it’s easy to focus so much on the end goals that we neglect the ways we get there, or more importantly, the why. But as Paul highlights, if we get justice, but don’t have love, what have we gained?

Jesus offers us a pretty good answer to that question. When Jesus was born, oppression was everywhere. Israel was a being run by the Romans. Taxes were too high and “No taxation without representation” wasn’t coming around for a few more centuries. Soldiers would abuse Jewish citizens and inequality was everywhere. What did God do? There wasn’t a revolution or a new leader. There was a baby, born to an unwed mother in a horse trough. There was a God so wrapped up in love for us that that God chose to come enter the fray with us, to experience the highs and lows of life with us, and to model for us a peace and justice rooted in love. Results matter. Action matters. Justice matters. Equality matters. But none of it is whole if it’s not rooted in love.

Reflection by Martin Leathers

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