Pastor Ethan's Blog
Thursday, February 22 2018
It’s a story we hear every Olympic games. A true story heard anytime a successful athlete, artist, musician, (or just about any person who has accomplished anything) is asked about how they got here. It’s the story of the people they couldn’t have ‘done this without’. “I wouldn’t be here without the support of my parents.” “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my coach.” “I can’t imagine this day without the amazing, sacrificial love of my family over all these years.”
They are compelling stories! Can you imagine getting up at 4:00 am every morning for years, to drive your child to the morning practice at the ice rink? The untold financial sacrifice to provide your child with the training, the equipment, the medical bills... so they have an opportunity to develop a gift into a skill capable of competing at such a high level? The tears, heartbreak, fear, and sheer emotional exhaustion when failure and injury inevitably happen? All of that, and more, for years. What would motivate a person to sustain that level of self-sacrifice?
The answer, of course, is easy. It’s Love. This is what love does. And we don’t just see it in sports. Any place we see a person serving, giving, supporting, cheering, sacrificing, working their tail end off… for the benefit of someone else- that is Love!
This Sunday we will take an in-depth look at one of the most profound attributes of Love described in 1 Corinthians 13. The NIV says it this way: “Love protects. Always.” Love sincerely cares about the well-being of others, and acts on it, even sacrificially. But the idea we see here in verse seven is even stronger than what the NIV translates. The verb ‘protects’ is rendered across different translations as ‘bears up under’, ‘covers over’, ‘never gives up’, ‘accepts all things’, ‘puts up with all things’, ‘is supportive’. The Greek word ‘stegei’ has a connotation of building a roof, a covering over something, or providing a support underneath. That’s an image! Love builds a roof. Love lays a foundation. And inseparable from this is the powerful Greek adjective ‘panta.’ ‘Always… in all things’. To take a shot at my own paraphrase: In all things, at all times, in every circumstance, with every person.. love sacrificially gives of itself to bring life, healing, patience, protection, acceptance, support, security, encouragement… to another person.
That’s what love does.
Unfortunately, this miracle of love seems to be fading in our culture. Maybe that’s why we love to hear these stories when we watch the Olympics, or any similar event. We want to be reminded of what sacrificial love can do, because so often we see the opposite. More and more, it seems like these stories could move from the Olympics channel to the National Geographic channel, as an explorer searches the depths of western culture for the incredible, rare, endangered heart that does what’s best for the other person.
Church, this should be our heart, it must be our heart, because it is the heart of Christ within us! As we’ve discussed multiple times in this series, we all are on a journey, we all have our brokenness, and God’s purpose through His word is always about conviction and redemption, never about condemnation. If we struggle with being self-serving, self-promoting, and self-protecting, it’s because we come by it honest. These are the core traits of fallen humanity into which we were born. But In Christ, this is no longer who we are! We have been reborn, set free, and given a new nature in which we will increasingly see every day the glimpses of Love we occasionally see in the best of humanity. Agape Panta Stegei. The Love of God, in all things, bears up and covers over. This is who God is! And friends, as we daily grow in our relationship with Christ, this is who we are as well.
Alive In Christ with you,
Love patiently accepts all things
1 Corinthians 13:6 (new century version)