This morning as I search the scriptures for a morsel of bread before beginning my day, I am drawn back to I Corinthians 13. This chapter has meant so much in my life, possibly the ultimate goal of any individual; the essence of becoming a man.
Becoming a man is the taunt of every boy by his father, often however, deteriorating to nothing more than a “suck it up” bootstraps approach to life. Here the Apostle Paul presses one to go beyond mere manhood, describing the true qualities of the man of God. Neither are we allowed to cop out by pointing back to Christ as the epitome of manhood, without ourselves seeing this lifestyle as a real possibility.
Love is the pearl of great price, found in the field of life which everyman may own, if he so chooses that purchase. A purchase I might add, that comes with a measure of pain, as it requires of one’s most precious and scarce seed, life itself, to be placed into the “ground” along with felt decay and death; meanwhile, hope alone assures the possible benefit to others. That’s a high risk venture when only one life is available.
The older I get, the more obvious my poor choices become, and the louder my cry that God give me one more chance at love before I am laid in the ground. A chance to demonstrate manhood as Paul describes it: patient, kind, lacking envy, boastfulness or pride.
Not necessarily becoming wealthy or poor, but kind. Not even the blazing courage of a John Wayne or Arnold Schwarzenegger (boy can sin unseat a childhood image) but the willingness to serve; to give all I possess to the poor and even surrender my own body to the flames; not martyrdom, as if our life were taken in some glorious moment of religious loyalty. That’s the root of extremism and the very childishness that Paul discourages. However, this chapter does leave me longing to do all that is herein juxtaposed with true love, but with appropriate motives. The question is can I, or will I?
Obviously, I cannot add too these perfect words in Chapter 13, but I do wrestle with them. Can I become a man, or was manhood lost in the fall; we now only groping foolishly for it until our death? I may now be sounding like the preacher in Ecclesiastes!
Seriously, was Christ exemplary of the manhood lost to us by sin, and now remains the only portal to a Kingdom that awaits those who choose true manhood (whether male or female)? Or, was He a model of what we can be in the here and now, by His Spirit?
The search for manhood on this Earth is futile if it only leads to a few more toys left to the side of the grave, or worse yet religious piety that morph’s or wanes with each generation. Is God so cruel that He shows up as a man, holding up the model of His true Sons, the image of himself, for my observation alone, knowing it to be something that I cannot achieve?
Somewhere in the Book is an answer, if I remain undistracted by my failures and the foolish pursuit of “manhood” as defined by the world. I will continue to search, not with my mind alone, but with my heart and soul, through the single lens of love.