Before moving away from I Corinthians 13 for the time being, let’s consider one more point. As we know, Paul ends his message on love with: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (13:13, NIV)
And Holy Scripture says many other things about love. Love fulfills the law. (Romans 13:10) Love is a distinguishing mark of a Christian. (John 13:35) Love binds together all Christian virtues. (Colossians 3:14; II Peter 1:5-7)
But. Do we hold love as the greatest of faith, hope, and love? Of these three preeminent principles listed by Paul, does love come to mind first as a Christian’s distinguishing mark? Is love what binds together Christian virtues?
It seems to me that, of “these three,” faith may very well come out on top when you try to honestly look at Christianity. We will always say that love is the greatest, because that’s what Paul says in I Corinthians 13. But when you think about what Christians talk about, what ministers preach about, what churches stand for, what Sunday School classes study, what causes lines to be drawn in the sand — isn’t faith the greatest? Isn’t what we believe most important?
Love is part of the faith of all Christians, of course. But in trying to sort out the greatest among faith, hope, and love, which one is it? I know what Paul says. I know what we will say if asked. But when we look objectively at the way we practice Christianity, is the greatest really love? If so, wouldn’t there be more unity in the church? Wouldn’t there be less bickering among Christians? Wouldn’t each of us be more Christ-like?
Just something to think about.