We are studying 1 Corinthians 13 for Sunday, October 25. This is the familiar “love chapter,” one of the texts that reminds us again and again what way of life we are being called to. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to consider as we think about and discuss the text:
Paul begins by listing several, presumably praiseworthy, spiritual performances he might make and declaring them worthless if he does not “have love.”
What are these impressive spiritual performances meant to signify? [For instance, do we think “So and so is really a good Christian” or “So and so must be very dedicated”? Is it about being “superior” in some way? … What is “Christian performance” about, do we think?]
What otherwise impressive spiritual performances would we add? What are the things that impress us today, or that make us think highly of celebrity Christians, or others in the church?
What does it mean to “have love” in the context of these performances, do we think? [For instance – do we think love is supposed to be the motive for doing these things? Or, an accompaniment? Or, something else? What do we think is the relationship of love to other spiritual gifts?]
We could think of verses 4-7 as a list of identifying criteria of love – signs or characteristics that enable us to recognize love. It is this, it isn’t that. What are the examples of these things, or patience or kindness or not arrogance and so on, that come to mind, that are their prototypes for us? Where have those examples come from? Our experience? Stories or sermon illustrations, etc.?
Have any of those examples been guides or models for us in our lives? Which ones?
[This is really a question about how we have learned about love, and learned to enact love, in our own lives. That seems like something worth thinking about.]
One way to think of verses 8-12 is as a meditation on the impermanence and partiality of many – maybe all – of the things we are now deeply involved in and consider vitally important. What thoughts and feelings does this part of the text bring up in us? Why is that?
What does this text tell us about God?
What does it tell us about ourselves?
Does it change us in any way? How?
Just because …