No, it’s not another international day nobody knows about, nor another Valentine’s Day, not even in Brazil. (Here, June 12th.) Nor has the wife sent me a promissory note for later. Following our reading schedule, today’s chapter is 1 Cor. 13, the famous love chapter. So most of what I’m writing today, and will be teaching tonight, focuses on love.
Three chapters (12-14) boil down to one phrase. Chapter 13 centers the discussion of gifts. In that chapter, three sections (essentiality, 1-3; activity, 4-7, superiority, 8-13) center on love’s actions (13:4-7). In that section, we have positive, negative, and positive actions, so the negative is the focus. Of the nine negatives, the middle one is, “it is not self-serving.” That’s what the Corinthians were doing with the gifts, serving and exalting themselves, when the gifts were give to serve and edify others. Pretty neat the way he organizes it, no?
Chapter 13 isn’t about marriage, although it probably gets read more at weddings than anywhere. It’s about church, about brotherly love. And, boy, oh, boy, do we need that today, when each one is going his own way, and we don’t have time for each other. It’s not that we fight. It’s that we hardly interact at all. Early Christians had daily contact. We do good to be in touch weekly.
I love the Internet. I work it, use it, benefit from it, share through it, and enjoy fellowship thanks to it. But as good as the Internet is, it’s no substitute for personal, daily contact with the saints.
Facebook is becoming a huge substitute for live social interaction. That’s just a fact, and we ought to use it for the gospel. At the same time, we as God’s agents of transformation must cultivate living, breathing communion at the local level. The Internet may even contribute, but it cannot substitute, our full fellowship together.
Some of God’s gifts can be used through the Internet, but not all. It cannot visit, feed, listen, touch, nor perform a hundred other actions necessary for full fellowship. For all its advantages, the Internet cannot give the holy kiss, or holy hug, or holy handshake, if that’s all you’re up for.
Today is for me, then, the Day for Love, the day to read, think, and practice the love of 1 Corinthians 13. Truth be known, though, every day in God’s church is the Day for Love. Every. Single. Day.
Love has skin, feet, and hands. Let it have your skin, your feet, and your hands.