Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.1 Corinthians 13:8-13 MSG
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I’ve been absolutely certain my way was the right way many times in my life only to be proven wrong or learn otherwise, later on. It’s humbling, or at least it should be.
As a society, you’d think we would have it all figured out by now, that we would see things clearly already. It’s been two thousand years since Jesus preached his greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence,” and “Love others as well as you love yourself,” and yet here we are, continuing to face unknowns, continuing to probe the depths of the earth and the deepest folds of our imaginations for the answers to life’s most pressing questions: Why are we here? Why do we suffer? How shall we live?
We don’t yet see things clearly, even in 2022, even with all of our new technology and modern science and greatest thinkers philosophizing. All of these things will come to an end, someday. A new iPhone will be released. Our understanding of the universe will turn in upon itself, again, like it has a dozen times over. We will philosophize new ways of dealing with the same set of questions we have pondered since we could ponder anything.
And yet, there are three things we can do to keep moving forward amidst so much change, so much ever present uncertainty. We can trust God, maker of heaven and earth, whose love is wide and long and high and deep. We can hope for the fulfillment and completion of all things, that we might be carried forward by the God of hope. And we can love, despite our differences, despite our lack of understanding, despite our desire to be proven right, we can bathe every single relationship with the love of Christ, which is patient and kind, which does not envy, which does not boast, which isn’t proud, the kind of love that does not dishonor others and isn’t self-seeking or easily angered, a love that doesn’t keep a record of every wrong, a love that doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in the truth, love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Everything else passes away. Love endures.
Points of Reflection
- When have you believed fully that you were right only to be proven wrong later on?
- What is your relationship with uncertainty? How does not knowing something make you feel?
For the Kids
- What are some things you used to do as a baby that you don’t do anymore?
- Do you think you will have all of the answers once you are grown up?
- What does Paul, the writer of today’s passage, say is the most important thing of all, more important than having all the right answers?
The Message paraphrase today says that “What we know about God is always incomplete.” Embracing this reality can help us give each other (and ourselves) the benefit of the doubt, helping us to remember that we are all on a journey. The humility of this uncertainty gives us empathy for others as we each strive to know God more, to become, as C.S. Lewis said, “little Christs.” What hard truths are you tight fisted about? Ask God to help you loosen your grip and hold these truths in the open palm of love.
The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs by Peter Enns challenges Christians to practice the humility of the verses we considered today. What does it look like to be able to trust God and embrace mystery? Enns’ book is both a challenging and freeing message that reminds us again that, without love, our words are nothing but clanging cymbals and resounding gongs (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon.com or through a local independent bookstore near you.