“If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
I have a brother that wanted to be a drummer. Growing up, he was always banging on something. Sitting at the dinner table, he had to tap his fork on the plate. Sitting on the couch, he had to rhythmically slap his thighs with his hands. He would beat on walls, benches, tables, anything. If there was a hard surface and he was near to it, there was only a matter of time before you could hear his beat. It was an impulse that he couldn’t control, and it drove everyone crazy.
When I read this verse, I think about my brother (if you’re reading this, I’m not sorry. You really did drive everyone crazy!) I think about all the senseless noise he created, and it causes me to question my life. If I’m not walking in love, I’m being just as obnoxious as he was.
Do I have love? On the surface, I think everyone likes to answer yes to that question. After all, nobody likes to view themselves as heartless beasts do they? I can’t be satisfied with what lies on the surface though. I’m way too complicated for that.
I think that this verse cuts to the heart of what everyone does. It calls your intentions into question. Notice that what is described in the beginning of the verse is a beautiful and good thing. Who doesn’t want to speak in the tongues of angels? It’s not about what you do, it’s the spirit in which you do it. It’s no good to speak like an angel if you’re doing it with a hateful spirit.
I can do everything in a spirit of love, and that’s enough to not be obnoxious. I don’t want to just be good enough to get by though. I want to be excellent. So how do I live a life of love in real time? I think the answer lies in the abyss.
I go to the places that seem completely devoid of love, and I bring all the love I have with me to fill in the space. I am intentional about seeking out those who are unlovable and untouchable, and I allow God to use me as a conduit of his perfect love.
I seek out the homeless and put my arms around them. I ask them what they need and I let them know that they are seen and known. I seek out the marginalized and I let them know that they matter, and their lives have value.
I can’t be satisfied with just going to church anymore. I can’t live with myself doing normal American life and turn a blind eye to the broken. That’s not love.
Love is doing the uncomfortable thing. Love is seeing all people where they are and acknowledging their worth. Love is opening myself up to the reality that pain is real and it’s all around. Love is knowing that I have the source of all healing living in me. I can’t be selfish and keep that to myself. That’s not love.
When I look at my life and all the efforts that I’ve made, I want it to be a beautiful symphony of love and care and hope. I want to keep the clanging to a minimum. It’s useless and it gives people headaches.
Go! See the void! Be Love!