Faithlife Sermons

Love like an Adult - Epiphany 4c

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Heavenly Father, be with us… be with me as a share the words that you have for us… and be with us all with an ear to hear your word. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray in Jesus’ name – Amen

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.”

St. Paul speaks these words in the midst of what is one of the most famous pieces of scripture

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 is a passage that if you have been to a few weddings in churches, you have undoubtedly heard it.

            Some call it simply ‘the wedding text’

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends. (1 Cor 13:4-8a)

‘the wedding text’ – a passage about love – marriages of course are romanticised as the uniting of love… and therefore what better passage from scripture could one chose?

I am not surprised when wedding after wedding, this passage is chosen

In fact, when couples are uncertain on what passage to chose, even though I have heard it many times – I often steer them to this passage

I steer them, even though, I think that probably, they and I are reading the passage quite differently.

I say differently because I was young and in love once too….Not that I am not in love now…

            But I remember what it was like to be in there shoes

To be faced with all the arrangements of a wedding service, the myriad of decisions to be made as we planned the rest of our lives together and holding fast to the idea of a highly romanticised love

            The kind of love that has captured our modern understanding of Valentine’s Day

Please understand that I am not presenting this one aspect of love in such a way that I might deconstruct it later – far from it – I hope that this aspect of love always be part of yours and my understanding of love

            Let me just say, that I remember being in their shoes

I remembering thinking of all the wonderful attributes that St. Paul states about love and thinking – yeah that’s what it’s all about

Love is about living out all those wonderful ideals

and then the wedding goggles go on and as if ‘in some form of trace’

everything that we have to do to plan our wedding

all the things that we had to think of

all the decisions that we had to make

all of them seem easy

because we are moved along in this idealized romanticised version of love that carries us through

Maybe it is the phrase “bears all things” that is the most powerful word for the newly engaged

And when a couple has selected this passage, when I am faced with the opportunity to preach a sermon at a wedding I usually repeat the key ideals

Repeating them, and I suspect reinforcing the message, even though I know they are likely hearing it while wearing their wedding goggles

                        Never-the-less I reinforce for them the highest ideal of what their love is to be

But today I want to suggest to you that St. Paul was not writing this text in the hope that some day it would be the standard ‘wedding text’

Paul was writing to the people of Corinth that were a deeply divided community – they were, in fact, a young community of faith and theirs was a church with a lot of growing pains

They were not loving each other as Paul would like them to, and so Paul’s intent is not to speak of their wonderful ways, but to teach them of what it means to follow Christ

            This is a lesson on how to live out the gift of the good news

                        This is a lesson on love certainly – but as an adult way of love

When Paul is speaking to this new church in Corinth, this divided and unhealthy church,

He is, in beautiful language and images, painting an idealize goal of maturity in the faith

And he is saying to them is wonderful poetry a strong message just below the surface

St. Paul is telling them to… ‘Grow up’

When St. Paul writes that “I put an end to childish ways” – he is teaching them that they should too

My dad taught sales and marketing for much of his life, he used to have this posted on his bulletin board in his office for many years

            “Sales is telling someone where to go… so well… that they are actually going to enjoy the trip”

And this is precisely what St. Paul is doing – he is faced with a group of immature people that are squabbling over many immature things and they need a lesson on life in the faith

            They needed to be taught about mature love, and with that, the goal of love – unity

Our New Testament passage is not the only scripture today that has a difficult unexpected message

            In fact all three of them challenge us

                        The prophet Jeremiah as a youth is told by God:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

                        Young Jeremiah is fearful and claims that he is only a boy, Yet God responds:

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Jeremiah must have been terrified

God has come to him, a boy, and told him that he has been made for a purpose

He has been given gifts and will be trained in gifts (delivered with the Lord at his side) to proclaim beyond the chosen people – appointed over nations and over kingdoms

to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant."

See how intimate the relationship is between God and us – How God, by Jeremiah, reveals His love – that when doing God’s will – God is putting the words in our mouths and is right beside us to deliver us

And then our Gospel reading where Jesus proclaims to His hometown, a startling message, a message that enrages them so much that they try to throw Him off a cliff

            Jesus who after proclaiming that words of the prophet Isaiah are being filled in their presence

                        While the people are still basking in the glow of the home-town boy done well & come-home

Are rocked from their complacent understanding of what He has just said from the well known scriptures of the prophet Isaiah

                                                Jesus picks the fight and even puts words in their mouth

Maybe it is because he has seen how they have misunderstood the magnitude of what He has proclaimed

Jesus challenges them into maturity to understand what God is proclaiming through Isaiah

            And they are not willing to hear His message

Challenging messages – all of them

            Each one – with a great proclamation

                        Each one with a call to maturity and response

                                    Each one a surprising message of love, pushing us beyond our complacency

For the past two weeks we have had from 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, and today we get the second half of the message in chapter 13

            We have been told that God gives to everyone - gifts

                        And they are gifts when they are used for the common good

                                    Big or small – visible or known only to the beholder – public or discreet

                                                Gifts for all - spread out over all of us

            We have also been told that we are all part of one body – that the church is the body of Christ

                        The people are the church - and as group we make up the body

The foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.

                                                We are to see each one of us a vital part of the body – each contributing

                                                            And if we are in any doubt – we must trust in it because:

God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.


Then today - the lesson on how to live out this ‘unity in maturity’ – a lesson on love

It is big task that we have before us, it is a tall order to fill

It is so easy to fall into the comfortable way of understanding 1 Corinthians 13 as the ‘wedding text’ and leave it there

But that would be to speak like a child, think like a child and reason like a child

A growing, maturing Christian is called out of the ways of the world and into the a higher, better way – we are called to live on earth as it is in heaven

We are called to be about ‘God’s kingdom’ – we are taught to turn away from our ways (childish ways) and turn towards God’s ways

Make no mistakes the ideals of love are not childish – far from it

Love lived out in its fullest is the most mature thing anyone could do

AND done for the common good – for the building up of the kingdom

                        Whether that be: in part in marriage, or in a community of faith – the church

Mature, full love is care and concern for well being, growing and unity of the common good

Think about what it means… – what it challenges us to… and how it call us to the fullness of life - To be:

Not envious

or Boastful

or arrogant

or rude

not insistent on our own way

Nor irritable or resentful

Imagine community, living, again either in a marriage or people of faith, which has a foundation that is:



Rejoices in the truth

Bears all things

Believes all things

Hopes all things

Endures all things

If you can imagine it… you are getting a glimpse of the Kingdom… The Kingdom of God

            The fullness of Love

                        Then imagine what it would mean if you were to live out this vision – here on earth

                                    Not the after-life – not merely ‘pie in the sky when you die’

                                                But living out this mature love – on earth as it is in heaven


You would truly be part of the body of Christ

You would truly be living your God given gifts for the common good

                        Whether that be in helping where help is called for

in giving of your time, talent or treasure for others with yourself

or maybe it is also in living your life as a witness or testimony to The God that Loves you so deeply

            As St Francis of Assisi has famously said

                        Proclaim the gospel in everything you do… and if you must – speak

And in closing I would like to leave the final thought to God’s inspired word from Paul’s letter to the Romans (from the ‘message’ version)

Rom 12:1-2  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Take your everyday, ordinary life - and place it before God as an offering.

             in the role and with the gifts God has given you – in maturity of love for the common good…

and SEE the Kingdom God wants for all of his beloved creation

Direct us O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favour, and further in us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued and end in you, we may glorify your Holy Name and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen

Related Media
Related Sermons