Dear Friends in Christ,
It is often said by those who lead groups of people in business or athletics There is no “I” in TEAM! A similar expression applies to the group of people known as the church – There is no “I” in LOVE!
When I first came to Pittsburgh the moderator of our former denomination requested that I serve on an administrative commission charged with the oversight of a terribly troubled church in Pittsburgh. It didn’t take long to discover that one of the problems faced by the congregation, and there were myriad, was the presence of too many “I”s in the church which led to great division and party-spirit, reflecting a lack of love. In particular, there were two or three “I”s who failed to understand that there is no “I” in love. Lack of love abounded in that congregation as it did in the church of Corinth to which the Apostle Paul addressed I Corinthians 13 and it resulted in division and strife.
Paul wrote “love is not jealous” (13. 4). Jealousy (or envy) has ME (“I”) at the center of my focus. Jealousy longs for the betterment of oneself over that of others. It also hints of rivalry between individuals who seek the affection, favor or support of others. It smacks of politicking, maneuvering for position and choosing up sides, of garnering power in the church.
Over the years I have attended services in troubled churches for which I’ve had oversight and I’ve never gotten over the distress of seeing small groups of “I”s mustering between the pews or in the hallways jealously seeking the betterment and advancement of their plans and agenda over that of others in the church. Paul’s message to the church in Corinth and to the church of our day is There is no “I” in LOVE!
He also wrote that love is not boastful (13.4) and was speaking about any self-centered action in which there is a desire to draw inordinate attention to oneself. The problem that the church in Corinth faced was personal boastfulness associated with (supposed) “superior” knowledge, skills, understanding and wisdom.
Such boasting establishes a false and selfish hierarchy in the church that causes division and strife. That is not to deny that there are those whose knowledge, skills, experience and gifts are of a different caliber than others; that is certainly the case and we are grateful for that. But the terms of love by which we are called to live in the church suggest that we affirm others and allow others to affirm us.
Love is the shifting of my concern, focus and actions from me to that of another so that the object of my love might thrive. Jealousy and boastfulness proceed from a focus on myself and are, therefore, anathema to love. It is a delight to observe an absence of division and party-spirit in our congregation, to witness a wonderful unity among us because of an absence of jealousy and boastfulness in our church.
Come Holy Spirit, Source of love, in all Thy quick’ning power
Fill up our church with love divine for this and every hour!
Faithfully in Him,
Posted on Fri, June 8, 2018
by Bethany Thomson filed under