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Love Is All You Need: Part 3




by Paddy McCoy



As a pastor I’ve had a lot of opportunities to officiate at weddings; last summer I conducted six weddings in two months! My kids were so tired of going to weddings by the end of those two months that when I asked them if they wanted to go to the rehearsal for the sixth one, my 11-year-old piped up and said, “No, we want this wedding to be a surprise.” Ouch!

With all my wedding experience there are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

1. The most common phrase at a wedding is “We’re running a little behind.”
2. One should always talk to the couple about an appropriate “kiss” in public. (Yep, I don’t even want to tell you the story about the time I didn’t do this.)
3. Every bride is a beautiful bride.

I’ve also learned that I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to weddings. There are few moments I enjoy more in ministry than the moment the bride appears and walks down the aisle.

One time, during an outdoor wedding, the bride’s car pulled up to let her out, and the groom looked at me and said, “Tell me when I can look.” The bride got out of the car and stood at the beginning of the aisle with dress laid out, flowers in hand, and Dad on her arm. I turned to the groom with tears in my eyes and said, “You can look at your bride.” He took a big, deep breath, turned, and then lost his breath for a few seconds. I know, I’m a sap, right?

Almost every couple at every wedding I’ve done have wanted 1 Corinthians 13 read. This chapter is commonly referred to as the “love” chapter, as it describes the many attributes of love. The only problem is that I think the love described in this chapter is not fully expressed between a man and a woman, but rather refers to something greater. Let me explain.

Her name was Brittni, and she e-mailed me after a vespers one night and wanted to talk about baptism. As it turns out, she knew that the Bible suggested baptism as a necessary thing one does when they come to believe in Jesus, but she also knew that Jesus saved people like the thief on the cross, who wasn’t baptized. She thought, If Jesus can save people without baptism, and my heart is fully committed to Him, why do I need to get baptized?

As she and I talked, I felt led to tell her about a wedding.

I told Brittni that in today’s culture there are a lot of people who forgo a wedding ceremony and simply live together without the marriage commitment. There are many reasons couples do this, but the problem is that statistically speaking, it’s a bad idea. Cohabiting couples have higher rates of physical and sexual abuse and are much more likely to break up. There’s something important about a public ceremony that strengthens the commitment between two people.

We then talked about how a baptism is like a wedding. On the day you are baptized, you are in essence saying, in front of family and friends, that you don’t want to love anyone or anything more than you love Jesus. You want to forsake all others in order to surrender your life to Him.

When Brittni left my office that day, she had a lot on her mind. I figured we’d have to meet more times before the issue would be resolved. However, that night I got a text that read something like this: “Paddy, I’ve decided that I want to get married to my BFF. He’s asked for my hand, my love, my life, and I can’t resist Him any longer. I’m so excited! When can we start planning my wedding?”

By “wedding” she meant “baptism,” and when the day actually came, I have to say that I thoroughly loved what took place. Friends sang love songs that were meaningful to Brittni’s relationship with Jesus. She wore a white dress, and she even read her vows of commitment to Him.

I had written up some vows from Jesus to Brittni, all from Scripture and many from 1 Corinthians 13. In The Message paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:3-10, it reads like this:

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.”*

I learned through this experience that the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 is the love of the Father for His bride: you and me. It is how He has loved us since before time began, and how He has promised to love us throughout eternity. The human love we share with each other is merely a glimpse of this kind of love; it is not the full experience (see 1 Corinthians 13:12). But when we love each other, we’ll catch a lot of glimpses of this love over the course of our lives. Then in one incredible day we shall see perfect love face to face!

Until then, may you promise to love God in the way He loves you, every day, from this day forward, until death brings you even closer together. Amen!

* Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Padraic “Paddy” McCoy writes from College Place, Washington. He is the campus chaplain for Walla Walla University. Check out his blog @ Pastorpaddy.blogspot.com.





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