Staying true to Christian values despite the world around us
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Phillips)
Many weddings, even non-Christian weddings, quote part of Corinthians Chapter 13, though not often the first 3 verses. Christian principles transcend culture and time. When Paul and the early founders wrote about how to live as Christians, they wrote in a time and culture that was pagan and anti-christian. For the Jewish converts, many thought of their historic exile in Babylon, including Jerimiah’s exhortation, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jer 29:7 (NIV).
Ultimately, it is demonstrating God’s supernatural love that captures people’s hearts. In my experience, when on the mission field where not many in the surrounding culture could speak English, local people could see the brotherly love we had for each other within our team. Our interactions drew people to us who were curious and wanted to know more; we were able to explain the difference that Christ had made in our lives as that difference was noticeable. More recently when traveling in a Muslim country, two folks volunteered how much they appreciated how I treated my wife, which created opportunities to share about our faith.
Other Christians have faced more challenging circumstances. For example, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce became a British MP soon after college at age 24. Following a trip with friends he converted to evangelical christianity. At that time he expected to leave political office but friends and colleagues in Parliament convinced him to stay. Wilberforce became a strong voice for the abolition of slavery. The forces supporting slavery were power and rich. Wilberforce’s strong political stands caused him to be ostracized by both progressives and Tories, so he served in office as an Independent (which was very rare). After 20 years of leading the parliamentary campaign, Wilberforce saw the passage of the act outlawing the British transport of slaves in 1807. In 1833, just 3 days before his death, Wilberforce was informed of passage of the law abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire.
One other recent example is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King lived in a time with vocal and vehement racial prejudice, enshrined in law (Jim Crow) and supported by overt violence. At this time of year (Jan 30) in 1956, while speaking at a public event, his home was fire-bombed. At home at the time was his wife and 7-week-old daughter. … (pause) … His home in America was bombed. How would you respond? … Dr. King rushed home to find as many as 300 African Americans gathered outside, many carrying weapons and prepared to riot. His response was to meet violence with non-violence and pleaded, “If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek them. We cannot solve this problem through violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence.” He assured them, “Go home and don’t worry. We are not hurt, and remember, if anything happens to me there will be others to take my place.” The crowd dispersed peacefully.
Today’s Training: Every day each of us meets challenges to our Christian faith, whether relatively great or small. In all circumstances, we are called to meet these challenges with God’s supernatural love. What we do in His love, can move mountains, or even the hearts of those next to us. Will you stay true to your Christian values today despite the world around you?