Love of Knowledge or Knowledge of Love?
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Jo, your question raises issues I hadn’t really given thoughts to. Love and knowledge are central to our existence. But the intersections are complex because there are different types of each and requires deep exploration which we don’t have time for now.
Love and knowledge are interwoven for us.
When I began to preparing this reflection, my mind immediately went to the song “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” by Tina Turner. One line says, “What’s love but a second hand emotion?” The song is a subtle take on her abusive relationship with her husband, Ike Turner. Might it have been different if she had the knowledge about what love is really about?
That’s another story . . . or is it? It reminds me of what’s happening among Christians who say they are following Jesus . . . many not exhibiting the love inherent in following Christ. So I ask, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” The answer, “Everything!!!”
You’ve heard Jo’s reflection on Paul’s treatise of the role and use of various gifts within the body of Christ. It doesn’t end there. He continues by emphasizing what is important to Christ’s followers. Paul tells us, as he told the Corinthian Christians, that all gifts among us are important. But he says, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” That most excellent way is love. It is more important than any gift of the Spirit.H
Paul provides a perfect description of what comprises love. Patience, kindness, humbleness, truthfulness, hopefulness. Suffering, charity, and self-sacrifice for marginalized people cannot surpass agape (Christly) love (v 3). In the final analysis, everything else is worthless if love is not present.
The actions of a Christian uphold the dignity of others. One’s own interests are less important than the welfare of all. Love is justice seeking and does not rejoice at others misfortunes. Love allows the individual to persevere in difficult times. These qualities are most notably demonstrated through the actions of Jesus Christ. Being a follower of Jesus, a disciple embodies these characteristics.
Knowledge of Yahweh is necessary for us to be like Jesus. Even though he says that knowledge will pass away, I think Paul recognized that love, particularly the love for God and humanity is grounded in knowledge. I think he was addressing intellectual knowledge absent of the knowledge of Yahweh and what Yahweh’s desire is for humanity. Intellectual knowledge will end for the person when their life ends. But the knowledge of God and what Yahweh desires for us is wrapped up in understand love . . . God’s love for us and our love for each other.
As beings capable of reasoning, the God within us calls us to seek after truth. We can only do that being examination of facts. That facts gives the desire to seek something or someone greater than we. Knowledge of our Creator gives us reason to love ourselves and all of humanity. Without the knowledge of Yahweh, our “love’ is superficial and futile.
An old country preacher once told me that the soul lies in the heart. I have never researched that theory; He said that when head knowledge conflicts with heart knowledge, our world becomes chaotic. The soul and heart is the direct connection to the holy realm. He said, “Son, there’s nothing worse than relying on the head to point to the God within. If you get head knowledge, let it inform your heart. Then you can be a beacon of light for anyone in the darkness”. If that’s true, our connection to each other is validated when love and knowledge is the common denominator.
Love and knowledge are not just a feeling . . . It is the act of being in sync with God and each other. It is not a second hand emotion!!
As we seek to become one . . . unified under the reign of Yahweh, we need to ask as a privileged person, “What are we learning from people who feel oppressed?” Are we willing to partake of the offerings that they bring to the table?
Knowledge can lead to wisdom and wisdom leads to revolutionary love. Valarie Kaur of the Revolutionary Love Project says that radical love is the well-spring of care, and a quieting of the ego. She goes on to say that loving others, even our opponents, is how the world is changed.
That revolutionary love requires knowledge of the other and self. It requires self-examination and learning from past experiences. This love needs to be our radical response to time and space we are in.
Paul was not just speaking from a vacuum and self-inspiration. He spoke to a community that was divided just as we are. He recalled the words of actions of Jesus who is the great path to love. He said that he was the truth (John 14:6) and the knowledge of truth makes us free (John 8:32).
Very few Christians disagree that love is a high priority for Christians. Yet, love is quickly lost in the fray when we try to discern God’s preferred future together. We forget that positive outcomes occur in the midst of chaos only when we love. An act of love changes attitudes, behaviors, and actions. Love cuts away any sense of superiority and perfection. God’s love eliminates everything that does not lead to God’s preferred future.
Where are our faith and hope for the future? If they are anchored in love, we will focus on finding our common identity in the knowledge of Christ. We will listen and seek to understand and value each other without exception. Christ teaches us that love is durable and never ends. It is always faithful when everything else is in disarray. Nothing is more important to a listening world than how we respond to each other in the Spirit of God’s love.
Jo . . . there’s much to glean from your question. I pray that we will continue to explore the implications of your question for us as we seek to be a Christly presence in the chaos around us.