Love Endures

Tony ChadwickPosted on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by Tony Chadwick

In it for the long haul

In 1 Corinthians 13:7 we read that

“(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”

Other translations of the Bible tell us the word, ‘endures’ instead of the word, ‘perseveres’.

Either way, it’s clear that this verse is talking about something long lasting – not transient – and something that, if it endures, is likely to have to do so through life’s ‘ups and downs’.

The Bible tells us (in 1 Chronicles 16:34) that God’s love “endures forever”.

This same theme is picked up and repeated throughout the Old Testament, telling us over and over (and reassuring us) that God loves us forever and we can depend on that love even though we wander off here, there and everywhere.

Our problem is our love for God and our fellow human beings – any parent knows about the ups and downs of their children as they grow up and face different challenges – but if God’s love endures, then we need to start from the same premise – that is our love needs to endure.

First of all, this means that this kind of love is not something to do once and forget – it is very much an ongoing process. We are not talking about the one-off interaction with an individual and this kind of love does not fit with the idea of doing everything at speed and quickly.

The modern world has become very fast – friends come and go, relationships are ended by text message, long term commitment has become relatively rare and taking the long view is not overly fashionable!

I recall hearing about some trees near Salisbury Cathedral, where replacements were being talked about for some that were 300 years old, with a life of about another 100 expected ahead of them. We don’t live as long as trees, but clearly love that endures is ‘in it for the long haul’.

Dealing with the ‘highs and lows’

We need to be faithful in loving – but (to me, at least) endurance carries that connotation that it may be a struggle – for all sorts of reasons.

We read in Matthew 22:37-40 that,

Jesus replied, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

These two commands quoted by Jesus appear in the Old Testament, the first,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”

is from Deuteronomy 6:5 – where it appears among a whole string of other commands. But in the New Testament, Jesus takes it and elevates it with an extra twist on the original, adding in a second commandment, Jesus tells us (also from the Old Testament – Leviticus 19:18) to love others.

I’ve recently been away on a skiing holiday and on a piste map at a ski resort, ‘runs’ marked in green represent the easy (‘facile’) routes; blue runs are average (‘moyenne’); red runs are difficult (‘difficile’) and the black runs are very difficult (‘très difficile’).

Their grading depends on the steepness of the slope, its width and the surface of the run, but even so, it is a bit of a mystery. Most pistes are groomed – smoothed out – by a ‘piste basher’.

I know my skill level, so you’d think it would be fairly straight forward! Avoid the hard runs and off we go – but the surface of the runs change all the time, depending on where the sun is in the sky, whether or not it has recently been groomed, what time of day it is (for example, first thing in the morning, it might be more icy), if it’s warm it might be a bit slushy, if it’s snowing hard, you might not be able to see so clearly where you’re going.

A friend and I decided to tackle a black run as the last run one day. This was going fine until we accidentally strayed onto a red run, which was unprepared. It was steep in places, narrow and gulley-like – survivable – but hard work at the end of the day, and there was no way out of it other than completing the run.

As Christians, we would like to feel we are equipped (Holy Spirit, Bible, fellowship) to do the equivalents of ski runs. However, sometimes the piste map of life goes out of focus and the colour scheme we expected no longer quite applies and we have to deal with the world as it is and all that it throws at us.

As Christians, we need to take what the ‘slope’ throws at us as we go through life – there is a prize at the end!

The new Jerusalem and new Earth are promised, where there will be no more death or mourning, crying or pain, as written in Revelation 21:1-4, but as James 1 shows us, we need to be ‘in it for the long haul’, because it may not all happen next week!

We need to keep sight of our destination, whatever life throws at us, because we are promised (in 1 Corinthians 10:13) that God knows us and will not test us beyond the extent of our ability to endure.

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