“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
This is, by far, one of the most popular Biblical passages to use at weddings. However, it is not talking about romantic love. Paul is talking about agape love or unconditional love. Agape love is a much more rich type of love. It is the type of love that holds communities together. It is the type of love that invites the outsiders in and values those others have considered unlovable.
In this Scripture, Paul is reminding us that without agape love, our faith means nothing. Faith in Jesus requires love as the animating force. When we have love, our faith takes shape. This is a message that is easy to lose sight of when we go about our days as faithful people. Our world tells us that we have to be right, so we try to prove our faith to others and lose sight of the love Christ told us to have. Our world tells us that we have to have the most knowledge, so we pour ourselves into studying and acquiring knowledge, losing sight of the love that gives our faith legs. Our world tells us we have to be the best in our field, so we work to set ourselves apart and accidentally trample those below us, forgetting what Jesus said about being a servant. It is so easy to lose sight of the most simple things about our faith.
Lent is a time to refocus on our faith. It is our opportunity to repent for the ways we have lost sight of love, for the ways that we have become a clanging symbol, in the words of Paul. It is our opportunity to once again let love seep from our beings, as Christ taught us. Where are you lacking love? What would it look like for love to be the animating force of your faith?
Loving God, your calling for love is sometimes more than we can bear. We have forgotten how to love and our faith has lost its shape as a result. For these things, we repent, O God. We seek to make love our aim in everything we do and believe because we know that this brings your heart joy. Amen.