The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 2/11

Posted on | February 11, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 2/11

Scripture reading: I Corinthians 13

The Main Thing

A Personal Paraphrase of I Corinthians 13

 

If I pray in languages I’ve never learned and worship with angelic ecstasy, but don’t have agape-love, I am only a nuisance to other people. And if I preach like Billy Graham and have graduate degrees in theology from the best seminaries in the world, but don’t have agape-love, it means I’m still a dummy. And if I have spiritual gifts that enable me to perform miraculous signs and wonders, but my heart is not filled with agape-love, it really doesn’t matter because nothing redemptive has occurred. Even if I am so committed to the Lord that I give away all my earthly possessions and willingly die a martyr’s death, if I don’t have agape-love, this all adds up to nothing, zero, nada, zilch.

Let me describe this agape-love for you. People filled with this kind of love never lose their temper. They are always courteous and polite. You’ll never find them treating others with rudeness or contempt. These people never use others for their own personal advantage. They are happiest when others receive more blessings than they do! They are not inflated with their own self-importance. These people are amazing. They don’t keep mental lists of grievances. They don’t find smug satisfaction when others fall, not even when it is their enemy. These people are passionate for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And yet they never give in to cynicism and despair. They keep hoping for the best and trusting in the promises of God. They just keep on loving. Nothing stops them!

All the other spiritual gifts will come to an end. One day there will be no more need for preaching or for miracles. Yes, even knowledge will disappear. But not agape-love; it goes on forever and ever. Even in their highest forms, all the other gifts are imperfect. They are only a faint hint of the reality they express. The best sermons are still deficient. A man with a Ph.D. still has much to learn. But there is nothing defective about agape-love. By definition, it is complete, perfect. When this love is present, there is nothing to add. We have all we need!

The reason so many of us are spiritual babies is that we have not made agape-love our highest priority. We will continue to act, think, and talk like two-year-olds until we do! But when the Holy Spirit pours agape-love into our hearts, we will grow up and start acting like adults.

Things may seem confusing now, but that is only because we have not yet learned the centrality and supremacy of agape-love. When people love with this kind of love, everything will come sharply into focus. All things will become clear. We will no longer see one another as “objects” but as persons, persons made in the very image of God. This love spells the end to all loneliness and isolation because it makes possible face-to-face intimacy with one another. In fact, my relationships with other people will be just as deep as God’s relationship with me! Because he has gotten up close and personal with me, I can now get up-close and personal with you.

When all is said and done, there are only three things that really matter: faith, hope and agape-love. But remember, agape-love is by far the most important.

Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down.

Fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus thou art all compassion, pure unbounded love thou art;

visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart. —Charles  Wesley

 

point to ponder Is agape-love the most defining characteristic of your life?

prayer focus For a baptism of love within your family and in your church!

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