The following was written by Leroy Case, Wintonbury's Director of Discipleship, for the wedding vow renewal ceremony of his friends.

I don’t know about you, but in the past when I've heard God’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s beautiful and a wonderful idea, kind of poetic, but not very realistic to live out. Lord knows I can be impatient and get easily angered; I have a talent in keeping a tally when someone has wronged me...let alone my love never failing someone!”

So what do we do with this passage? Do we just chalk it up as some ideal that we’ll never live up to? Or is it really possible to have and live out that kind of love? I think most, if not all of us, would acknowledge that we would both like to both experience and demonstrate that kind of love. But how?

Well as the great philosopher Maria Von Trapp said in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” 

Creation: the Great Unfolding, the moment where everything began. Where planets whirled into motion and God breathed out the stars. Where nothing become something, and light and beauty emerged, taking the form of rolling meadows, colossal mountains, vast oceans, and every variety of creeping, crawling, swimming, trotting, soaring creatures on earth. And then, the crown jewel of it all: man and woman. Ahhh. Everything God had made was good but this, THIS, was very good. Made in His likeness, bearing His very image, no other part of the created order had been instilled with such value, such inherent worth. Yes, the heavens and earth and all that filled them were glorious but the glory of man and woman far surpassed it all for they TOGETHER reflected the fullness of the image of their Maker. 

1 John 4 tells us that God is LOVE. Therefore, for man and woman to be created in God’s likeness, meant that they were created and called to BE love, to reflect His perfect love in the world. They didn’t have to strive to love one another; love flowed from their very being. They knew nothing else. 

But all that changed when a whisper planted a seed of doubt, ”Is God really good? Does He really love us? Or is He withholding something good from us?”

Desire led to temptation, temptation to sin, and sin to death. Like shattered glass, the image of God was broken within man and woman. No longer did they so clearly, so perfectly display the His likeness. Selfishness and self-preservation replaced sacrificial, self-giving love. And the crack in the glass spread from them to us, where, to this day, we see the cost of their sin as people seek their own pleasure, happiness, comfort, etc., at the expense of others, causing more brokenness, more pain, more unrest, more separation from God and one another.

It seemed that all was lost. But how could it be? The price for human’s freewill was high but isn’t God all-powerful? Couldn’t He do something about the mess, to restore the brokenness and bring beauty from ashes? 

Yes, He could. Immanuel. God with us. Jesus.

Love came down in human flesh to heal all that was broken, to restore the image of God within each person. He took on our brokenness, sin and death in His very body by His death on the cross, to eliminate its power by His resurrection, proving He was God and that the restoration of all things had begun.

“This is love, not we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) 

Life was being renewed and the kingdom of LOVE was being established once again on earth as it is in heaven. 

All of us who would choose to say YES to Jesus, and NO to ourselves, to die to ourselves, our selfishness, our self-preservation, our self-indulgence, to come to the end of SELF and choose to take on His perfect LIFE, to receive His forgiveness and perfect love that cannot be earned but freely received, indeed we will be made new. A seed must die in order to live again. 

Beloved, that love talked about in 1 Corinthians 13, it’s possible. In fact, you were created, called, destined for BE love. And the only way to participate in that perfect LOVE is through Him. When He takes up residence in Your life, everything changes. You are made new from the inside out and the more you die to self, the more His life shines through yours and love that you thought was impossible becomes possible because LOVE lives in you. 

LOVE is changing you. LOVE is freeing you to become more of who you were always intended to be.

With Christ, you can be the kind of husband, wife, child, friend you long to be. With His life in you, healing you, restoring the image of God in you, YES, then you can reflect the glorious love of our Maker.

And that my friends will change the world.

It will change your family, your friends, your work, how you think, feel and live.

It will change everything.

Image on previous page by Monnotman (CC BY-ND 3.0)