God calls us to love one another. That’s what Paul is saying to the Corinthians and to us! We think, That’s really hard. How can I love her? I don’t even like her! He’s such a jerk. I did all the work on that project and he took the credit. Love him? Forget it. That’s life, right? Those same feelings carry over into public relationships as well. How do we love people who are different from us?
Read today’s scripture again and think of all the things Paul was saying as simple steps to loving our neighbors: Patience. Kindness. Civility. Hope. Not tooting one’s own horn or looking down on others. Not being jealous of what another person gets credit for. This description still doesn’t sound like love. Love is, somehow, bigger than that, more mystical.
No one of those attributes by itself is love. But taken together they make a good plan for loving our neighbors. How do we learn these attributes? By practicing them. Someone once said, “You make a path by walking in it.” We learn patience and civility and all those other traits by living them.
Begin with civility, for example. Be polite. Treat other people with respect. Or start with patience. Practice being patient, even if you don’t feel patient. If you practice, one day you’ll discover how patient you’ve become.
When we make loving our neighbor an abstract ideal, we make loving them difficult. Paul tells us these simple attitudes and practices taken together make up the practice of love. Living them out is one way we answer God’s call to love one another.
God, show me how to live out your love in the daily tasks of life. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures share a common theme of calling. Jeremiah is called at a young age to be a prophet. God knew and set apart Jeremiah even in the womb. The psalmist also expresses confidence in God’s call, because God knew him even before he was born. In the same way, God knows each one of us and has a plan for our lives that is not an afterthought. In this First Corinthians passage (often read at weddings), Paul speaks of love. But this love is not infatuation and is not based on emotion. It is intentional, strong, gritty, and unselfish. In Luke we see that many struggle with the fact that Jesus’ calling is also to serve the marginalized. Jesus reveals that God has a missional heart.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. What is God calling you to do? How does your passion intersect with the world’s needs?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. God promises not to make our lives easy or perfectly safe but to be with us when we face challenges. In a world that seems increasingly violent, how do you find assurance of God’s continuous presence?
Read 1 Corinthians 13. God calls us to a vocation of love. How can you be more loving in your daily work or activities?
Read Luke 4:21-30. How do you see God’s call in those you know best? How can you look to minister to the outsider and the oppressed?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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