What Good is it if You Do Not Have Love?

The Rabbis say, “love thy neighbor, everything else if commentary.” FYI Jesus was also a Rabbi. Image from SantaBanta

He is Risen!

Happy Easter to all of you. At a time we are celebrating the bodily resurrection of Christ, and remembering the promise of our own eternal bodily life in the age to come, it is important to remember the real goal of the Christian life here on Earth.

Easter is always a little bit of an awkward time for us here. It is the most important time of the year for Christians, but being on the Orthodox calendar (resurrection being on May 2nd this year) we are always a little out of sync with the rest of our community. In the Christian East we do not use the term Easter, we use the term Pascha. This is just the Greek word for Passover. For us, the resurrection is part of the ancient thread of remembrance of the passing over of death promise of eternal life promised to us found in the Way of Christ Jesus. Which is…the same things for all Christian. We just sort of use different words and say it with a Greek or Russian accent. Ha!

The assembly of Christians (the Church) is one that is lived in corporeal (bodily) spirituality. It is one that is found in corporate (groups of bodies) worship. Unlike other religions that focus on spiritual practices, such a Buddhism or the Vedic Yogas, Christian unity with God CANNOT be achieve from one’s own efforts alone, nor can Christians acquire the Holy Spirit alone. We rely on participation of God in our Soteria. By that I mean our spiritual salvation and our bodily and mental wellness. For spiritual salvation we need the will of God. For everything else, we need each other for support. By the same measure, Christians are somewhat unique in their call for group worship– where Christ dwells in our midst [Matt 18:20].

PraXis is about supporting your Christian life with spiritual practices that also improve health outcomes. That’s because Christianity is bodily religion. In many ways the Church has lost sight of that fact, and is trying to get back on track. Christian wellness is emerging in the US as a new category in the industry. We welcome that fact and hope to be a part of the resurrection of bodily focus in the Church.

Fitness wellness is not a goal in and of itself. Having a spiritual life is not a goal in and of itself. To be fit or to be religious can easily lead one to pride and vainglory (spiritual pride). As Jesus tells us, we are to live the Jewish law of Shema, to love the Lord your God. And as is said in John 13:34, we show this love by loving one another. Not an easy task. But, one that Paul puts into perspective for any who might rest on the laurels of their fitness, religious or spiritual accomplishments.

Here Paul is speaking to the church he has planted in Corinth. This is a particularly unruly group of Greek converts. They have acquired a lot of spiritual powers (gifts) but still, they behave badly, committing acts of pride, adultery, and selfishness and with divided loyalties. Paul puts it all in perspective:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; 
where there are tongues, they will be stilled; 
where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 

For now, we see only see through a darkened window; [When God comes] then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known [by God].

And [for] now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

It’s a lesson I often need to remind myself of. I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it so that I can love and help others.

Published by Cornelius Swart

Masters Candidate, Vancouver School of Theology

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