First Corinthians 13 has always held a place in my heart, since first listening to these lovely words on a Bill Gaither recording, given to us by a believer early on in our experience with God.
Our first few days in the faith were giddy and joyful, given the new freedom we had found in our souls. In our early twenties, quite ignorant of religion and hardly familiar with scriptures, we had no idea where these amazing descriptors of love could be found. Those were innocent days, long before we became fully engaged with any one church.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” So goes this eloquent treatise on the nature of God. Yet, forty years later, my heart is troubled as I move into the last quarter of my life; the first and perhaps most productive semester now given to service in the church. Why has it taken so long for me to grasp the brokenness of men, myself included?
This week I dug a little deeper into history of John Calvin, after a conversation with a church scholar. Calvin’s history was not without the likes of atrocities now perpetrated by ISIS! Yet, this “leader” is still revered by many as one of the pillars of the institutional church.
Are we so enamored with the institutional church that we afford heroic status to those who defend her, even in the face of scriptures like those mentioned above? In so doing, do we continually poison the hearts of those who will follow us? Perhaps the many lives now consumed by an institution drunken with power, let alone those destroyed, might have otherwise been poured out in the love of Christ, and thus the world a better place?
Age has its benefits and its sorrows; the benefit being a greater span of time to tease out church history for ourselves and thus conclude the true nature of God, apart from the bias of men. The sorrow, the amount of time lost in the learning.
I have had such great privilege to know and to be used by God over these many years and yet now grieve the loss of time spent serving the agendas of men. What am I learning as I age:the power within our institutions to bias men. We are a broken lot and though called by God, are easily distracted by institutional theology; necessary in part, but often tainted by its own politics. Theology once legitimized, gathers it’s own following, and is then curiously accommodated by our churches. These varied followings serve only to further divide what was once respected as the Bride of Christ.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” I Cor. 13:11 NIV.