Commenting on 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 , Dr. Gregory Boyd wrote,
“A more radical teaching on love couldn’t be imagined! Most of us could not help but be impressed by someone who could speak in a beautiful angelic tongue or who possessed powerful prophetic gifts. But these abilities amount to nothing more than religious noise – a clanging cymbal – unless motivated by love and used for the purpose of love. And who wouldn’t be impressed by someone who understood all mysteries or possessed all knowledge? Yet if they do not use these marvelous gifts to ‘come under’ others in love, they are altogether worthless. And who could criticize someone who had mountain-moving faith or who gave away all their possessions or even heroically sacrificed their life? Yet Paul says that if these aren’t done for the purpose of loving others, they are devoid of value, at least from a kingdom-of-God perspective. They may be very impressive within the context of a religious version of the kingdom of the world, but they are utterly insignificant in the kingdom of God, except insofar as they manifest Calvary-like love.
The only criteria that matters, then, in assessing whether anything has any value within the kingdom that God is building on earth is love….However impressive a gift or achievement may be in its own right, it has no kingdom value except insofar as it manifests God’s love – except insofar as it looks like Jesus Christ.
How might our churches be different if we took Paul’s teaching seriously? What would happen if the ultimate criteria we used to assess how ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’ our churches were was the question, are we loving as Jesus loved? The truth of the matter is that we are only carrying out God’s will and expanding the kingdom of God to the extent that we answer that question affirmatively. No other question, criteria, or agenda can have any meaning for kingdom-of-God devotees except insofar as it helps us respond to that question.”
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