The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Friends and Family

"If I had such faith that I could move mountains..."

I had intended another post, but because of your interest and further insights for me, I decided to postpone it and continue in the same vain as the last post.

Paul--our apostle of discernment--had his own thoughts on faith (Romans and Galatians) and on hope (Rom 15, Eph 2-4, 1 Thess 4, 2 Thess 2, 1 Tim 1). From the looks of it, faith is the church's highest priority. It justifies believing sinners. Isn't this the highest goal, the deepest compassion of the American church--to imbibe its members with saving faith?

That's the impression you would take away from nearly any church service on any Sunday morning, if their worth their salt. But our modern-minded Paul doesn't allow us to believe this at all.

Friends or enemies, the arguments of faith devolve into doctrinal disputes, with opposing sides shoring up their beliefs by telling themselves that, fortunate for them, they're right. They have good faith, good doctrine, right belief.

But then, right there in every marriage ceremony, where these Friends and enemines aren't thinking about their doctrine, they fail to hear the words of the man whom they highly regard. They are lulled into a sort of ignorance by its cadence, its poetic quality degrading the importance of its doctrinal significance: "Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast. It is not proud; it is not rude. It's is not self-seeking"

Yes, we've heard it over and over, to the point of meaninglessness. Paul's digression waxes eloquent, seemingly hyperbolizes love's qualities and significance. By verse 5, the faith-minded thinker has turned to other more important matters.

And he fails to heed his highly-regarded teacher's words: "These three things remain: faith, hope, and love."

"And the greatest of these is love."

Love's superior position to faith should shake our moorings to faith's predominance. Few truly believe love is above all. We would want to hedge and shift, and to nudge love aside only a little. We would create an ongoing tension between equals: faith and love. But Paul does not grant us that option. Love is above all.

Love, not good faith nor right doctrine, is the mark of the sons and daughters of the Father (who is himself love). And as children, a family resemblance should be our highest goal.