Love has many supporters but few activists. This must change. We must begin with a foundation of love if we are going to be like Christ. And, we must continue maturing and bearing the marks of growth in Christ without drifting away from that foundation of love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)
Paul is not giving us an excuse as if to say, “Since love is more mature, you don’t need tongues, prophetic powers, or selfless generosity.” He was speaking to a group of believers who had all of these marks and more. Paul is emphatically stating that you must never move away from your foundation of love. Perhaps it would be more relevant to many if we replace those marks with what is common in many of our churches today:
If I attend, serve, and support my church faithfully, but have not love, I am missing the point. If I hand out coffee, hugs, and handshakes as people enter my church but have not love that compels me to pray for their release from bondage, brokenness, and disease, I have not loved like Christ. If I sing about how God changed me into someone I could never become on my own but I demand that the government legislate morality upon others, I gain nothing because my own thinking has not yet been transformed by love.
Without love it all means nothing and produces nothing of value. It is, at best, a mangled distortion resembling love that proves we do not yet know the love of Christ sufficiently. If there is one thing we need, it is love that looks outward through the same lens with which it looks inward. We need to show love on the same world that “God so loved” that he gave all to bring back to Himself. We need to champion a love that aligns with God’s design to release, redeem, and restore others (2Cor. 5). And that love will be seen in healing, prophesy, and generosity. That kind of love will be felt through service, faithfulness, hospitality, and justice.
But if we don’t get love, we’ve got nothing.
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for eighteen years, and is the proud father of two boys.