“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Are you familiar with “The Love Passage” in the Bible? Or as it is better known, 1 Corinthians 13. Most people have heard it at weddings or quoted in sermons about loving others, etc. It is such a familiar passage in Christian circles that I never thought I’d be surprised by new information about it. But I was wrong!
Recently, I was reading The Search for Significance by Robert McGee and came across something that helped me see this passage in a new and different light. Here it is:
“First Corinthians 13 describes God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us. To personalize this passage, replace the word love with my Father.
My Father is very patient and kind.
My Father is not envious, never boastful.
My Father is not arrogant.
My Father is never rude, nor is He self-seeking.
My Father is not quick to take offense.
My Father keeps no score of wrongs.
My Father does not gloat over my sins but is always glad when truth prevails.
My Father knows no limit to His endurance, not end to His trust.
My Father is always hopeful and patient.
As you memorize this passage, ask God to show you if your perception of Him is in error in any way. This will enable you to have a more accurate perception of God and will help you to experience more of His unconditional love and acceptance.”
The whole idea of literally replacing the word love with My Father made me stop and think differently about this passage. Because while I know that “God is Love,” as seen in the 1 John verse from the top of this post, I had never realized that the two words could be so directly interchangeable!
Now, instead of just understanding 1 Corinthians 13 in light of human love – how I can love others better or how to better understand healthy love in relationships with others – I also see how this passage can help me better comprehend God’s unconditional love for me as well.
Often we connect to God and view his love in light of the broken or unhealthy relationships around us. Whether we do this consciously or unconsciously, it is easy for such thinking to sneak into our notion about God’s love for us. Realizing the words love and God can be so easily exchanged helped me to get a better grasp on the way God relates to me; That the imperfect love we get from others and give out ourselves really has no correlation to the perfect love we receive from God!
I also began to wonder about other places in the Bible where this type of exchange could work. And I came up with 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in God. But a perfect God drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in God.” Replacing the words in this passage really refutes the idea some people have of a God who is just waiting to punish them for their wrongdoings. It also allows me to better understand that I don’t need to be anxious about coming before God with sin issues from my own life either.
Here is another passage I found that also works: “[God in Action] God must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). This revised verse helps me realize more about God’s faithfulness and righteousness and how better understanding both of these qualities can allow me to see “God in action” all around me.
My favorite modified passage is still 1 Corinthians 13 though, particularly about God not being quick to take offense, keeping no score of wrongs, and having no limits to His endurance and trust. All good concepts for me to wrap my head around about God’s true character. And also to think about how my perception of God and my relationship with Him can change for the better as I let these ideas about Him start to sink down deep within me.
**I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart. Click on the image below to find other great posts from the linkup too**