Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. —I Corinthians 14:3-8a
This text is regularly preached, read at weddings, and studied in Bible Classes as the way we should love others. Recently, as I’ve listened to people process their spiritual journey, I’ve become aware that we tend to have a distorted view of God’s love. We often attribute negative circumstances as God’s 2×4—a smack over the head—to get our attention or teach us a lesson, as if God gets impatient with us and has to resort to being mean. So, instead of seeing God as One who stands beside us, encourages us, and believes in us, God becomes the One who creates the negative in our lives to keep us in line. Maybe this is one reason we do not risk opening ourselves to be loved by God.
My experiences have shown me that life brings the negative circumstances. Our choices—and the choices others make—bring negative circumstances to our lives. Life gives us all the opportunities we need to learn and grow. Though our family dog, Carly, herds people by nipping at their heels, God isn’t nipping at our heels trying to keep us going in the right direction. God’s love enters into our experiences encouraging us, supporting us, wanting us to learn and grow, but it’s our choice to make.
Since I Corinthians 13 is how we are to love one another, then it must be the way God loves us. So, I changed the wording a bit, and it really helped me visualize how God’s love manifests itself in my life: God’s love is patient and kind. God’s love is not jealous. God’s love doesn’t brag. God’s love isn’t arrogant. God’s love is not rude. God’s love does not seek it’s own advantage. God’s love is not provoked or irritable. God’s love does not keep a record of complaints. God’s love doesn’t rejoice in injustice. God’s love rejoices with the truth. God’s love bears all things. God’s love believes all things. God’s love hopes for all things. God’s love endures all things. God’s love never fails.
Take some time to internalize the ways you experience God’s love, and think about what God’s love is and what it isn’t. Begin to shed the negative ideas you have of God’s love. Accept life as it is and open your self up to receiving the goodness—-the truth— of God’s love.