This weekend I am hosting up marriage covenants between two friends of Kelley and mine. Its at a vineyard in Dahlonega, GA. It should be a blast. So, Kelley and I have been married ten years as of June. And each time I do a wedding it is a chance to remember how much it meant for our friends to participate (grooms men, bride's maids, Ty Saltzgiver- my Young Life trainer who married us, Ryan Long- the singer-songwriters who played for nothing but a hotel room). The premarital counseling, service design, and the prep for whatever homily I offer- they all give me a chance to revisit the compelling thoughts of love shared by everyone in God's World.
I was struck this time around by Paul's choice to place the theme of "incompleteness" inside his ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13. Peterson's paraphrase puts it this way:
We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled…
We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing God directly just as God knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love
Ten years ago I didn't know half of what I know about love now. Because love requires locating ourselves in the unknown. It requires mystery and unfinished-ness. People are naturally relational- we understand ourselves in relationship to others and our contexts, and have a consciousness about that relationship. Love requires us to leave that consciousness open for edits. We leave ourselves vulnerable, accessible. Love edits our memories (forgiveness) and our dreams for the future (hope).
Love of God, and our beloved-ness as children of God... does a similar thing. True knowledge of God-is-love-ness requires receptiveness, and it "softens" us. True participation in this Love-of-God-ness casts out fear (memories) and makes all things new (future).
So asking having strong enough 'faith' to be featured on CBN, or being the greatest political orator of our time, or making poverty history... without love is nothing, gets us no further along, and starts to sound like a creaky gate or a bent cymbal.