There’s a bible study we did on Love recently that stuck in my head and in my heart for a bit. Thanks to the amazing ‘pong piah’ (loosely means ‘exploded biscuit’ in Hokkien) for leading it.
We looked at the context of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter that supposedly speaks about love, and appears to define what love is.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is slow to anger. Love perseveres. Immediate catch phrases come to mind. And if there’s anything I mistakenly thought about what love means, it is to be nice.
Being too nice can a dangerous thing. In fact, it can be a dishonest thing. In a world that continues to scream ‘Make Love Not War’ even way past the hippie era when it started, conflict of any sort is frowned upon. I am tempted to live out my Christian life trying to be nice, say the right things, say the encouraging thing, be slightly firm in the wrong things but try to make it up with a whole lot of flowers, cupcakes, sugar and spice to make things all ‘good’ and ‘nice’ again. But if I just focus on having those wonderfully peaceful relationships, I’d be dishonest. Yet that being said, in times of conflict, there is a thin line to be drawn between applying tactfulness in firm loving gentleness and brash confrontations that tear the other person down.
So yes, excuse me while I learn what not trying to be nice looks like, and what loving someone means. After the study, and aided by further learning through a cool bible learning resource from the University of Notthingham (again, with thanks to the amazingpongpiah), it is apparent that Paul wasn’t trying to define love for us, but was trying to show the Corinths what they weren’t doing.
So what does love looks like then? If we’re tempted to ask that question, perhaps in practice, for me, it would be doing/saying something and desiring the other person to become more like Jesus.