Can you remember being a kid? Can you remember the thrill of each new morning and the wonder of each new day? Can you remember when a week seemed like an eternity, and it was a lifetime between Christmases? Can you remember nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and thinking that all stories had a happy ending and the world was full of handsome princes and beautiful princesses? Can you remember when your father seemed like the smartest man in the world and your mother the most beautiful woman?
If you close your eyes and let your mind drift back what memories come to you from your childhood. I can remember riding my bike with David Fader when I was ten, and playing softball with Rob Courtier when I was eleven. I remember my dad taking me out into the surf off Barcelona when I was seven. And having my mother all to myself when I was five. I remember wanting to grow up tomorrow and never wanting to grow up at all. Can you remember being a kid?
Fifty years ago 100,000 young people descended on San Francisco in what we now refer to as the Summer of Love. It was 1967 and I was just a kid.
This summer we’ve chosen to celebrate a different Summer of Love and we’ve been working through 1 Corinthians 13, which has often been called the Love Chapter of the Bible.
Over the past nine Sundays we’ve been reading through the chapter together and today is no different. So stand with me as we read 1 Corinthians 13 responsively. Which simply means I will read a part and then you will read the next section.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!
But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This week we are going to be looking at 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
If we share nothing else in this life we have shared childhood. Before culture bends us and shapes us and pushes us into our particular mould we are children. Rich, poor, black, white, in Canada or Australia or Ghana or Egypt children are children are children it is our one common and shared experience. We may end up in different places but we all started at a common place and that was birth.
Indeed it was such a natural starting point that when Jesus was looking for an analogy with which to explain the new life of the Christian to Nicodemus in John chapter three he latched onto that common shared experience and told that teacher of the law, “you must be born again” . You must start over; begin fresh, experience a new birth.
And the Apostle John said in John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. children of God, not teenagers of God, not adults of God but children of God. The scriptures tell us we must start over, be born again, become as children, but what are children?
Well Lionel Kaufman said “Children are a great comfort in your old age, and they help you reach it faster too.” Someone else stated that “a boy is noise covered in dirt” Kate Wiggins said “Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility.”
One proverb summed it up when it said “There is only one pretty child in the world and every mother has it.” and in 1675 Lord Rochester wrote “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children, now I have six children and no theories.”
my favourite is “A baby is a small member of the home, that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bank balance smaller, the home happier, clothes shabbier the past forgotten and the future worth living for.”
But I know as well as anybody that children aren’t as good as they used to be. I mean they certainly aren’t as polite and well mannered as I was as a child and my parents let me know that my behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated when they were children and I’m sure that my grand parents must have told my parents the same thing.
One writer summed it up when he wrote, “Our youth love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders and would rather talk then exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of the households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, talk in front of company, gobble their food and terrorize their teachers.” Of course that was written twenty three hundred years ago by Socrates.
But whatever else we agree on or disagree on we are on common ground on one area is that the natural thing for children to do is to grow up. Most do, some don’t. But they are supposed to. Indeed when Paul chastened the early Christians his complaint was that they were still infants in Christ.
Why was that a complaint? Because for all the good points that children have they also have their faults. A good majority of those faults are excusable in children but intolerable in adults. I’m sure that your children some times exhibit behaviour that you would be disappointed in if they behaved that way as adults. Whether good bad or indifferent there are characteristics in children which are not normal reactions in adults. And there are characteristics in new Christians good, bad and indifferent which are not normal reactions in mature Christians.
The believers in the Corinthian church are referred to on at least two separate occasions as spiritual infants by Paul. In both instances the Corinthians are urged to mature, to put childish things behind them and to grow up. What are some of the childish things that we need to put away in our physical life and spiritual life as we mature?
1) Infants Are Short Sighted At birth we are told a newborn’s point of focus is eight inches. Just about the distance to mom’s face when the baby is nursing. It’s not that the child wouldn’t like to see further, but it can’t. It’s natural sight is limited to that distance.
Often new Christians can only see from day to day or from Sunday to Sunday. They can’t see the big picture. But as children mature they are able to focus on objects further and further away until their eyes are able to focus on objects at any distance. As Christians mature they need to be able to see beyond next week, they need to be able to determine where they want to be in their spiritual life a month, a year or ten years from now.
Just as most of us plan our lives and set goals in our personal and business affairs we need to do the same in our Father’s business. When do you want to have read your bible through? When do you want to have developed a consistent prayer life?
When do you want to become a soul winner? The reason we establish goals is to establish direction. Once you know where you’re going you can establish which direction you need to head. If you want to go to the Rockies you don’t start by getting on a boat and sailing east. In your personal life and in you spiritual life costly mistakes can be made without careful planning.
That’s why Yogi Berra said “You got to be careful, if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
2) Infants Can’t Tolerate Solid Foods. You know babies have a very interesting diet, milk. Boring but hey that’s not their fault, they’re just babies and they can’t tolerate solid foods I’m sure that they would like to chow down on a big Mac or Whopper with cheese but they can’t.
The interesting thing is that mother’s milk or formula will provide everything infants needs right now to grow.
New Christians need what Paul and Peter call spiritual milk. They need to focus on the gospels, on reading Mark and John. Those books provide everything a baby Christian needs to grow. But you put a new Christian in Revelation or Ezekiel and you are going to have one confused believer.
Now the teen guys in the church are different than the infants in the church. They can eat almost anything and depending on how hungry they are they will eat almost everything, if you don’t believe that than come on out to dinner on the grounds and watch them graze.
If all you gave your teenagers was milk you would have one sick kid. As parents we know that as our children mature they need a more varied and solid diet. Why then is it that so many Christians refuse to take in anything but milk?
People say things like “I don’t want to get into that because it involves doctrine.” or “I don’t know anything about theology, and it’s beyond me.” But think about it, if God didn’t want us to have it then he wouldn’t have put it into the book.
It’s like if God didn’t want us to eat animals why did he make them taste so good?
The Bible is the greatest best seller of all times. It has suspense, crime, romance, international intrigue, mystery, philosophy, poetry and prose. You need more then simply John 3:16 to get through your spiritual life.
As you mature you need the meat of the word. How much of the bible do you know? After all you are betting your eternal life on the validity of this book. Have you studied it? When I preach do you take notes? Are you involved in a bible study? In October Dr. Steve Lennox from Kingswood University
Reading a selected verse each day won’t help you learn the bible anymore then opening a math text book and reading one equation each morning will help you to learn math. Or opening one of Shakespeare’s plays and reading a passage every day will teach you much English. If you are going to grow and mature in your Christian walk you will have to learn what God’s word says for you. Remember what Paul tells us in Hebrews 5:13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.
3) Children Need To Be Catered To. An infant can do absolutely nothing for themselves nothing. You need to feed them, change them, bathe them, carry them, pick them up and put them down. They are totally helpless, and without parental attention they will die. But you know there comes a time when mom and dad have to let go and let the child do things for themselves. No honest, you really do have to let go.
Christians, that is new Christians, need to be guided through their early life by the hand.
Somebody more mature in the Lord needs to disciple them and help them. But there comes a time when baby Christians have to start doing things for themselves. Too many Christians are quite content to be spoon fed on Sunday and allow the pastor to run interference for them keeping an eye on them to keep them out of trouble.
But there comes a time that we have to say it’s time to fly on your own, time to sink or swim, time to fish or cut bait. Talk about a medley of metaphors. But the fact remains that you cannot be nursed forever in your Christian walk. Christ even tells us that we will be identified by our behaviour or as he puts it in Matthew 12:33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. And the only person who can produce fruit for you is you. I can’t, the only person who can is you. And you can only do that when you take responsibility for your own Christian walk.
4) Children Can Be Critical And Uncaring. The cruellest people in the world can be children. They have this uncanny knack for singling out the one who is a bit different and then watch out. Whether it is weight or colour or a handicap, children can be some of the most malicious and cruel creatures on the face of the earth.
Even Christian kids, check out the Christian schools, youth groups, Sunday school. There are the in kids and the out kids, the popular kids and the unpopular kids. And life isn’t much fun when you are outside the circle for whatever reason. If you’re not good at sports, if you don’t have the right clothes, or toys, or hair cut.
Wouldn’t happen with adults would it? Well maybe, but not in a church would it? Why is it that there are churches that people never go back to because they don’t feel welcome? Is it because they can’t break into the family?
When service is over do you speak to all the visitors or are there some that you don’t feel all that comfortable with and really wouldn’t be that comfortable if they were in the church.
James talks a little bit about that in the letter that bears his name. We are noted for being a friendly church. But it won’t take much change for that to end. It’s easy to just talk to our friends, after all it’s been all week and we haven’t seen them and we have so much in common and they are friends. Each one of us needs to be intentional about saying hello to people on Sunday morning. There should be nobody who looks like a wall flower standing by themselves off to one side.
You ever watch how kids can be the best of friends one minute and not talking the next because of some slight either real or imaginary. Never happen in a church right? How about when a brother or sister stumbles and falls? What is our first reaction? Do we stoop to help them up or do we stand over them and shake our heads.
Our task isn’t to be harsh and critical it’s to encourage. Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
5) Children Can Be Selfish. Most children for at least part of their lives are mainly concerned with the one person who occupies the centre of the universe and that is them.
How many children does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, they hold it and the world revolves around them.
An action can be wrong for the rest of the world but if it benefits that one child hey they’ll vote for it every time.
When you ask a child to do something how many times do they ask: “Why?” And what they mean is “what’s in it for me.” How about around the church, in all the areas there are to serve are you serving?
What could you do at Cornerstone, greet people at the door? Help in the Nursery, or in Jr. or Children’s Church? Read scripture or host or lead a life group?
I guess the question is this: if Cornerstone is your regular church home and you aren’t doing something to serve here, how come? Does your tithe come off the top or the bottom of your salary is it a sacrifice or whatever is left on Sunday? Hey, I’m only asking the questions.
When you are asked to serve in the church is your first thought; how will it fit into all my other commitments? Pastor I just haven’t got time with all my other commitments. I thought that Christianity was a commitment. I hope that Cornerstone is a commitment.
You ever stop to examine your motives and why you do things? It’s something each of us has to do, are we doing it to benefit me and mine? Are we looking out for number one, hey that’s what we are told to do isn’t’ it? In his book “Improving Your Serve” Chuck Swindoll talks about going on a canoe trip and how he made sure that he and his son had the best seats in the van, and when they got to the launching place that they had the most experienced guide and the best canoe.
It was only on reflection that Swindoll realized just how unchristlike his actions had been. All too often we are guilty of looking for the best seat, the best parking lot and the best deal for ourselves. Doesn’t sound much like Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.
When the church decides to go in a particular direction are you usually for it or against it? Why? Is it based on what is best for me and mine or what is best for the kingdom? Looking out for number one isn’t Christ’s policy it’s the world’s policy and supposedly we aren’t of the world.
These are some of the childish things that we need to put behind us. Some of the things that Paul warned us about.
He said it was time to grow up.
how about it how grown up are you in your Christian life? Are you further along then you were last year, are you growing or are you just stagnating? Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
So, if we are supposed to put those behaviours behind us, then how are we supposed to behave?
In case you missed it, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Centennial. Fifty years ago the Beatles released
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Fifty years ago Interracial Marriage was declared constitutional
by The United States Supreme Court. Fifty years ago Elvis married Priscilla. Fifty years ago was the
last time the Leafs won the Stanley cup and fifty years ago San Francisco experienced
the Summer of Love.
Summer of Love was the name given to the influx of over 100,000 young people,
so called hippies and flower children, in the Haigh Asbury district of San
Francisco during the summer of 1967.
this event as a turning point in American culture, and which way American
culture turned depends on your
summer at Cornerstone we have decided to celebrate the Summer of Love by
focusing on 1 Corinthians 13, which as been called the Love Chapter of the
Bible. And through the summer we’ve been
taking the opportunity to read all 13 verses together. This morning we are going to read it in
unison. Please stand with me as we take
the opportunity to read God’s word.
Corinthians 13:1-13 If I could speak all
the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a
noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my
body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained
nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or
proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and
it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice
but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up,
never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special
knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our
knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only
part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and
thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish
things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we
will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and
incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows
me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and
the greatest of these is love.
positive attributes of love, culminating last week with the statement that Love
never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every
circumstance. And that is often easier said than it is lived out in our
daily lives when sometimes things get tough.
attributes of love to the permanence of
speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But
love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of
prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full
understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
believers in Corinth had been ranking each other based on their spiritual
gifts. Those who had the gift of
knowledge or prophecy or speaking in tongues were seen by some as being further
up the spiritual food chain, so to speak.
I’m so glad that doesn’t happen today.
things won’t last.
that all the prophecies would have been fulfilled. And there would be no need for the gift of prophecy.
That there would come a day when there would be no need to speak in or be able
to understand unknown languages because we would all be speaking the language
of heaven. And there would be no need for the gift of
day when we would know all things, that no one person or one group would be
able to claim a corner on knowledge. And
there would be no need for the gift of knowledge.
when all that happens, and it doesn’t matter if you think the fulfilment will
come at your point of death or at the return of Christ, that there is one thing
that won’t change and that is the love that God shows us
and that is the love that God expects us to show others.
the Bible has been our translation of choice at Cornerstone for the past
fifteen years or so but there are some passages where that I think some of the
other translations do a little better job.
Not with accuracy so much as with style.
And verse 8 is one of those times.
Corinthians 13:8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and
special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
Version and the New King James Translation begin with these word.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. Which technically means the same
as Love will last forever, but somehow seems more powerful.
love? Does it mean that you will never
doubt your love? Does it mean that you
will never hurt or offend the ones you claim to love?
in trouble. Because people do fall out
of love, we sometimes doubt our love and there are times that we offend and
even hurt the ones we love.
Intentionally or unintentionally.
scriptural promise of “Love Never Fails” with the life reality of the fact that
“Love sometimes does Fail”?
mind. The first is we need to understand
the Love that Paul is talking about. He’s
not talking about the love you feel for your parents or children, or he would
have used the Greek word Storge which is
translated “love”. He’s
not talking about the love you feel for your BFF or he would have used the Greek
word Philia which is translated “love”.
about the love you feel for your spouse, even though 1 Corinthians 13 is read
at weddings all time, if he had of been talking about that romantic love he
would have used the Greek word Eros which is translated “love”.
uses in the original language was the Greek word Agape which is translated “love”. But you knew that.
the type of love that you fall into it’s the type of love that you choose to
demonstrate and act on. It is an act of
the mind as much as it’s an act of the heart.
for thousands of years was exhibited in arranged marriages, where people
decided that they would love each other.
when you adopt a child. That love will
not doubt become the love that you would have for your natural child, but you
begin by choosing to love the little stranger you have invited into your home.
demonstrate to your child when they rebel against you and reject your values.
from the love that your felt for your child when they weren’t in rebellion,
when you held them in your arms and your heart melted. They were easy to love then, now you have to
make the decision to love them, it becomes a choice you have to make.
used in 1 John 4:8 when he tells us that “God is Love” and the word that Jesus
used when he told Nicodemus in John 3:16 “For God loved the
world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes
in him will not perish but have eternal life.
to understand is that Paul writes that “Love
never fails.” We may fail love but
love will never fail us.
this morning I want to look at a story from the life of Jesus.
be arrested, at the event that we now call “The Last Supper” and listen to how
the story begins: John 13:1 Before
the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world
and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on
earth, and now he loved them to the very end.
line? He had loved his disciples
during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. He
didn’t love them until the end of the evening, he loved them to the very end.
the evening was over, Jesus would predict that Judas would betray him and that
Peter would deny that he ever knew him and that the other ten would scatter and
desert him. But he loved them to the
that they had had, the love that they had professed, the love that they had
demonstrated that love would fail Jesus.
Judas accepted 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus to those who wanted to kill
him, Judas’ love had failed Jesus.
denied knowing Jesus not once not twice but three times, at the time when Jesus
needed Peter’s friendship more than ever, Peter’s love had failed Jesus.
other ten scattered and deserted him, their love had failed Jesus.
that at various points over the previous three years that all twelve of the
apostles would have expressed their love for Christ either verbally or at least they had
the thought “Hey, I really love this guy.”
and one denies him and ten desert him.
Love never fails?
will disappoint God, there may be times you will choose to disobey God, there
may be times that you choose to rebel against God.
14:23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say.” And if obedience is the litmus
test for our love for Christ then we have to acknowledge that there are times
that just like the twelve blew it that we will probably blow it.
wasn’t over when the 12 each failed Jesus.
We have to
believe that Jesus was thinking of Peter and Judas when he looked down from the
cross that he was nailed to and said, “Father forgive them.” That he was saying Father forgive Peter
and Father forgive Judas and Father forgive James Father forgive
Andrew and Nathaniel and Thomas
words He had
loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the
knowing that one would deny him and one would betray him and the rest would
desert him, Jesus loved them to the very end.
after his prediction was fulfilled and even after Peter denied him
and even after Judas betrayed him and even after the rest deserted him, even
then he still loved them.
stop the love of God.
You can choose to ignore the love of God and you can choose to not
accept the love of God, or can choose to walk away from the love of God but
that doesn’t negate the love of God.
raining, you can stay dry under an umbrella, you have rejected the rain. But you haven’t stopped the rain. It’s still raining.
reject the love of God. That’s what we call “free will”, but you can’t stop the love of God. And it is because of that Love that God won’t
force you to accept his love.
the question in, Romans
8:35 Can anything ever separate us
from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or
calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or
threatened with death?
same thing. Maybe you’ve uttered those
words “If God really loved the world, if God really love my family, if God
really loved me. . . Then this wouldn’t be happening.”
at times when life seems unfair. And
even though we may feel unloved that doesn’t negate God’s love for us. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for
us does not.”
question about being separated from the love of Christ he goes on to answer that
very question in Romans 8:37 No, despite all these things,
overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Christ’s love is still there and at the end of our lives Christ’s love is still
there. William Barclay wrote, “That is one of the great reasons for
believing in immortality. When love is entered into, there comes into life a
relationship against which the assaults of time are helpless and which
very end, not the very end of our lives but to the very end of time.
the promise that even though our love for God may fail, God’s Love for Us Will Never Fail
love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for
today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate
us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth
below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the
love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God. His love is with us from the
moment he breathed life into our being until we close the chapter on the story
of our life.
the love of God, but understand it is our choice.
man and the first woman. And it was
because of that love that God’s heart was broken when they chose to rebel
heart was broken when I was dealing with my rebellious teen.
God uses phrases like “God’s unfailing love” and “God’s lavish love”. As a matter of fact over 200 times in the
bible God’s love is called “unfailing love.”
deserving or undeserving we are.
Tenderness of Jesus”, “God’s love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is
based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that
‘anything’ were to collapse, then God’s love would crumble as well. But with
the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can
live freely and to the full.”
of God. And there is nothing we can do
to earn that Grace and in the same way there is nothing we can do to earn God’s
love. Which is why Martin Luther warns
us “The sin underneath all our sins is
to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of
Christ and must take matters into our own hands”
he told them “You can’t trust God’s love” and it’s the lie that the Devil told
Judas and Peter and the others and it’s the lie that he wants us to fall for as
and God’s grace, Paul
reminds us in Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die
for us while we were still sinners. Even when we were the least deserving of his love, while we were
still sinners, God loved us enough to send his Son to die for us.
on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the
world, ‘I love you.’”
but God’s love for us will never fail.
And at the end of the day we need to realize that if we are going to
trust in God’s grace, then we need to trust in God’s love for us and not our
love for God.
And so I leave you with the words of Augustine who
wrote “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” And he will love you to the very end, and
that love will never fail.