May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3.12
“Love is all you need….” Memorable lyrics from the Beatles that started rattling through my mind when I saw this verse. What kind of love, though? Maybe the sentimental, the erotic, or the bond of strong friendship? Not quite. That 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love? Yes. The love that comes from God that can increase and overflow. Love that sacrifices, serves and loses for the other. Receiving the love of God and participating in that love for others – spouse, friend, neighbor and enemy.
Is this divine love all we need? Yes, as long it is the divine love. Love can be seen in many ways. Not all that claims to be love is rooted in the divine, however. We claim to believe in love but do not put it in practice. We affirm to love our neighbor as our self but it never reaches the neighbor. Human attempts at love will falter and fail unless rooted in the humanity of God in Christ Jesus. God’s love is not some abstract concept removed from the world. That love put on human flesh, lived that love, died and rose again for us and the world. An eternal love that is ever so near….
The love of God revealed in Christ is a necessity. Without that love, the possibilities before us through creation, in freedom and in responsibility would come to nothing. Not an absurd, meaningless and senseless world, but nothing. We all need the love of God, whether we realize it or not. The alternative is frightening and hopeless, death. Yet we can face death (and how can we not?) filled with faith, hope and most of all love. A love that transforms death and ushers in the new creation. God’s love is over all and His love never fails.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3.13
I’m not sure what it is. When I think of ‘bearing with each other’ I think in terms of ‘tolerating’ or ‘putting up with’ someone else. Sometimes it is the person who most irritates us that we need. They expose those areas in our life that we think have been changed or transformed. Not always but sometimes. Sometimes the other person needs change as much as we do. Luckily, we can embrace the grace of God in this process and walk it out together.
The ‘one anothers’ of the New Testament provide a way for us to engage in this spiritual journey together. Not only do we get to ‘walk it out’ together we can also ‘walk into it’ together. Figuring out our spiritual path is not one of isolation, although times of solitude play a part in spiritual formation. We need each other in all this. We can work it out together. We can bear others burdens. We can forgive. We can be forgiven. We can be reconciled. We can walk out love and forgiveness by the grace of God. We can walk into the grace of God and share divine love and forgiveness with others. May grace and love abound to us all….
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Ephesians 5.19
I’ll readily admit, this is a “one another” that is more difficult for me. I’m not musically inclined outside of listening and being able to carry a tune (sort of). Likewise, many of us in our churches are in a similar boat. We enjoy carrying a tune and singing with others, we just can’t play a musical instrument if our life depended on it. So, what do we do?
The easier answer is write the lyrics, poetry set to music. We often pass the song writing off to those with the musical talent. However, I bet many a sister or brother, sometime in their life will have a song in need of music. So you who can play, be open to collaborate with those who can’t but have a story to tell. Also, please do not feel compelled to write a chorus that gets repeated twenty times and remains superficial, dive deep, maybe even write a new hymn!
Likewise, take some guidance from the Psalms. While many were written as praise to God, some where written as complaints to God or from a place of great brokenness. Songs that praise God are great and not to be discounted. We also need to remember that the living God became human and shared in our life and suffering. Human songs are needed that express the wide spectrum of human experience. Out of the dung that is in our lives, a flower can grow in the midst….This is the place of grace…..