International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 30, 2012
Purpose: To reflect on our experience of Christian love, its relation to faith and hope, and our call to express it in our lives and relationships
Scripture Text: Hebrews 13:1-3; 1st Corinthians 13 (CEB)
(1) Keep loving each other like family. (2) Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. (3) Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place.
1st Corinthians 13
(1) If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. (3) If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.
(4) Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, (5) it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, (6 )it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. (7) Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
(8) Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. (9) We know in part and we prophesy in part; (10) but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. (11) When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. (12) Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. (13) Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For the past few weeks we have been talking about faith, this week we are going to look at love, and what God's word has to say about love.
In modern and ancient Greek four different words were used that can be translated as “love” in the English language. The first is Storge, most commonly used in the Greek to mean affection or fondness. The second is Philia, usually used to mean friendship; it is where Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, gets its name. The Third is Eros, the Greeks used this term for romantic love, it implies an emotional connection, it is where we get the word erotic. The fourth Greek word used for love is Agape, sometimes translated as charity; the love expressed by agape is called unconditional love. It is love regardless of circumstances, the type of love we would have for our children, and it is AGAPE love that God has for us.
The writer of Hebrews uses agape love when he talks about family, and opening ourselves up to our community. It is the love that is expected when we live lives that reflect our relationship with God. It is love based on kinship and commitment. It is love regardless of circumstances, often this love is expressed as benevolence, or charity. Nothing is expected in return for giving this type of love.
As our lesson goes into the great love chapter of I Corinthians 13 we find an expanded and mature meaning of Agape love. Regardless of our education, degrees, or how many initials we have before or after our name if we lack agape love, all that we accomplish is for selfish pride, and carries no weight in God's economy.
True love, unconditional love, agape love, is patient, kind, has no envy, doesn't brag, is not rude, expects nothing in return, is not arrogant, doesn't keep score, and is not irritable. (still think you have agape love?) Only God or a life fully committed to God could comply with all that the writer expresses.
Regardless of what we think we know, we only know in part. Agape love is not looking at our self in a mirror and liking it, it is looking through the mirror and seeing people as they really are. It is seeing others as God sees them. There is a great illustration of this found in Mark chapter 8 “Mark 8:24-26 (CEB) where Jesus heals the blind man with a second touch, “(24) the man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.” (25) Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly. (26) Then Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village!” The man saw men as Jesus saw them, no longer “as trees walking”
If we want to experience a life that can share in agape love, we too might need that second touch from God on our lives. Faith, hope and love …...... the greatest of these is love.