It is difficult for us as finite human beings to grasp the idea of eternity. For us, eternity is the wait at the tag office, or the time we spend on hold trying to convince whatever utility company that, yes, we HAVE paid that bill, and we have paid it on time. It seems that when we need something, it takes an “eternity” to get it. When something is required of us, however, that demand comes across immediately and forcefully.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes in great detail the nature and qualities of love. This is the love that we learn from God. It is the very core of who we are to be as the people of God, in fact. There are many things, Paul indirectly hints, that are important and useful in this life. Yet none of those things will last. None is eternal. For Paul, the only things that are eternal are faith, hope, and love. And, rising above the rest, love reigns supreme. When all is said and done, when all has “burned up” and gone the way of the Dodo bird (as we used to say), what will remain is faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these, the apostle declares, is love.
We are called to be people who reflect the love of God in this world. Love is greater than spiritual giftedness, greater than our “natural abilities,” and greater than even the all-important “knowledge” upon which we place so much of our hope. Love is what sets us apart. It is what confirms that we are the people of God. It is what will identify us as those who have been redeemed by Christ.
May we always be a people whose primary focus is love of God and love of those around us,whoever (and whatever) they may be.