Although I am not a Christian, there is one passage of the Bible which inspires me more than any other excerpt from any other religious text. In many ways, it shows me how far I have to go before I am the person I really want to be. At the same time, it also gives me a sense of hope and orientation.
I don’t blame myself for failing in this area because I have been given an incredibly difficult path in ways that few people could understand. Yet, as challenging as things have been and still are in some ways, there is no doubt in my mind that whenever I failed the most in life it was because I was not loving and whenever I succeeded the most it was because of love.
It’s complicated because we cannot always love others in the way we might hope. I think that love requires a foundation of feeling safe with another person and works best when it is mutually beneficial, involving both giving and receiving. Yet I also believe that there is nothing more important in life. I can’t necessarily explain why, though I will try to explore the reasons for it in more depth, but I nevertheless believe that, in some sense, love is everything… and the following biblical passage communicates that idea rather profoundly.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, 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 perfection comes, the imperfect 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 childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.