“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:4-6)
Jesus was never a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” As he encountered the masses gathered at his doorstep or the one needy soul desperate for his attention, his words brought conviction, healing, strength. Nothing but good flowed from his lips. His speech was drenched in love the way pure running water conveys life.
His was a faith that could actually “move mountains,” and Christ routinely repositioned foothills and highlands as he fed the hungry multitudes with a small lunch, brought the dead back to life, and healed the incurable sores of contaminated lepers. He transformed the insurmountable with his acts of kindness, compassion, love. Christ had all power and knowledge, understanding all the mysteries and complexities of life, and yet love was at his core. His mind was ordered by love; love was the prevailing sound resonating through his life, seen in his actions.
Our Lord displayed patience and kindness as he instructed his plodding disciples, gathered children in his arms, or instructed the curious crowds pressing in against him. His was a generative love, a building-others-up kind of love, a love void of selfishness. Jesus’ love made him willing to be interrupted, placing the concerns of others as a high priority. We see his brand of love as he raised a widow’s only son to life, restored the dignity of a prostitute, and washed away the greed from a tax collector’s hands. Only Jesus’ sort of love would allow Judas to live by his side for three years and then wash his feet right before he walked out of the upper room to betray him for a few measly coins.
Jesus bore it all, believed the Father’s way was best, and he endured the taunts, accusations, whips, nails, mockery, and the scorn. Christ actually did “give away” all that he had – he willingly surrendered his body as an offering, a pure and holy sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated precisely what love looks like, how love responds when it is tested, not returned, ignored.
Christ still calls to those who reject him, gives to those who are oblivious, and invites in those who are indifferent. He still creates in us a longing for him, a dissatisfaction with everything else in order to desire what he knows is best.
Love compelled Christ to the cross. His love is still an undistinguishable force at work in our lives because “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (I Corinthians 13:7-8).
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell