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What will remain? DAY 14

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 As we come to the end of our time together in first Corinthians, we’ve also made the two week mark of our unexpected lockdown-journey! When Paul ends this beautiful chapter, he puts a ribbon on his work as he reminds the church in Corinth that spiritual gifts will one day cease, but that something even greater will remain. He is pointing to three of these gifts – tongues, knowledge and prophecy, contrasting them to the three fundamentals of a walk with God – faith, hope and love. As we sat across the street from our neighbours this afternoon, contemplating the good things about this lockdown, we were once again filled with thanksgiving that we have something to hold onto in times of crisis. Where millions of people across the globe are living in fear for an unseen enemy, we can still have these three – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Having these three anchors of the soul in times of uncertainty fills me with a peace that is indescribable. A peace that Paul in Philippians 4 says “surpasses all knowledge… guarding my heart and my mind”. Yes we have many challenges to face, but in the midst of the storm there can be a stillness, a quietness that isn’t naivety or a denying of facts. No, it is a hope, built on faith that has proved itself over many years, fuelled by a love that is not from this world. As we have studied this famous chapter on love, we must note that the love the writer is talking about isn’t rooted in a human definition of love. The original language the New Testament was written in, Greek, uses four words for love – philia (a brotherly, friendship love), eros (a romantic, intimate love), storge (a parent’s love for a child) and then agape, the word used here in 1 Corinthians. Agape love is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. When I see this definition of agape love, everything makes sense. When I think about the day we are celebrating tomorrow, everything makes sense. When I look at a sinless, dying God-man on a cross, everything makes sense. Because…

“God is love [agapos],” 1 John 4:8 Agape is the kind of love that is not of human origin.  For example this love can be said to be found in Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”  To die for an enemy is not what humans do.  That is a God-type of love.  Jesus died for us while we were still His enemies and while we were sinners.  He loved us first.  He took the initiative.  We didn’t.  Agape love is the kind of love that God had for us, while we were still dead in our sins.  Agape love is a God love. Have you responded to this amazing love? Stay safe and stand strong. Retief Burger

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