The Love ChapterBottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, August 31st, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
The state motto for California is Eureka, coming from the famous California gold rush that lasted from 1848-1855. At the beginning of the gold rush, nuggets of gold could literally be picked up right off the ground.
It didn’t take long before the gold disappeared off the ground and people had to look for the gold in less obvious places like rivers and stream beds. This is where a method called “panning” was created.
Now, this is a multi-step progression that requires more finesse than you might imagine. Material is gradually washed out until you get down to just a tiny amount of sediment left in the pan, and lo and behold, in the bottom of the pan you just might be blessed with a few fragments of gold! Eureka!
Panning for gold is really a process of sifting and discernment; of removing the “stuff” that is not important, and allows you to get to (and reveal) that which is really important.
I Corinthians 13 is commonly known as The Love Chapter. Let’s look at it in context. The small congregation in Corinth was a diverse group; different social classes, gender hierarchy, religious and ethnic hierarchy, people were judged on their places of origin, the differing levels of knowledge and spiritual giftedness all contributed to their diversity, and also contributed to their resulting problems. You see, some people thought their spiritual gifts were better than the gifts of others. This created division, factions and lines of separation. They had forgotten Jesus’ command to not judge others and had all but thrown out the window the command to love your neighbor as yourself.
OK, hold that thought. Let me make a short digression. When I lived in Colorado, I loved to go hiking in the mountains (and you know there was a gold rush in Colorado as well). As I was hiking, I’d notice some of the rocks on the trail that were just shimmering with what looked like tiny gold nuggets when the sun hit them just right. So beautiful! I didn’t know if it was the altitude or the dehydration, but I thought, wow, could this be some left over gold?
Much to my dismay, I was told it wasn’t real gold; it was iron pyrite, aka fool’s gold. Fool’s gold was all over the place, and called that because it fools many people into mistaking it for the real thing.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians was trying to help this diverse, divided, fractured, stressed-out community of faith discern the difference between gold and fool’s gold; between what are authentically spiritual gifts and what are not.
Paul is panning for gold here, and helping this community of faith learn how to do it too; to pan for the real thing and not get duped by fool’s gold.
Galatians 5 says, “And the fruit of the spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” And in 1 Corinthians we read, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The point I’m trying to make is that Love is that gold nugget at the very center of Jesus’ teachings. Love celebrates! Love reconciles. Love heals. Love creates harmony.
Let’s not mistake fool’s gold for the real thing. When a community lives in this authentic love, it results in ministries of compassion and mercy, reconciliation, healing and advocating for the marginalized; living in this authentic love from the fruit of the Spirit results in affirming each individual as a unique and gifted creation of God. Let’s build on our history of celebrating diversity in sexual orientation, gender and gender identity and welcome all people.
May we learn from the congregation in Corinth about the importance of Love and staying connected to the source of all love.
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