Agape and Anastasis (Love and Resurrection)
Agape and Anastasis
(Love and Resurrection)
“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
You’ll receive at least a few Valentines today, I hope. We who labor in love should give, and receive, a few Valentines to remind us of the tenacious priest who stood up to the Empire. Some of my favorites were from the children of the church. I enjoyed the red-crayon hearts on my door until at least Easter! In these days of wall-fueled shutdowns and angry words across aisles, a red-crayon heart might feel pretty good right now.
It’s cliché to always run to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians for advice on love, but his treatise on agape always instructs and never grows old. I always ask my pre-marital couples to insert their own names into the text of 1 Corinthians 13 … “______ is patient, _____ is kind…” as a bit of a test for relationship readiness. We might do the same. It never hurts to check the pulse of our own agape.
Reading further into Corinthians, Paul exposes the true expression of God’s love, resurrection for those who believe. Beyond behaviors, we are offered in 1 Corinthians 15 the truth and consequences of God’s love for us. He describes his own unworthiness, our doubt, historical travail, and even the science of immortality. In resurrection, our bodies will be as God has chosen they will be. They will transcend all the difficulties of earth, all perishability, all dishonor, all weakness, all physicality. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:50) In this important chapter, he asks less about our bodies and more about our souls – urging us to simply “be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (15:58)
I say all of this to build up to 1 Corinthians 16, the conclusion to Paul’s heartfelt letter to a multi-cultural church. He advises generosity, staying in relationship, and this: “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (16:13-14) Sometimes we forget what a fitting end this is to a letter full of words on agape love and anastasis hope. May this be your Valentine from me today, as you lead your churches with courage, strength, and most of all, love. We were all created to love, and our ministries are an expression of that love. This is my red-crayon heart for each of you.
Bev Coppley, District Superintendent
Northern Piedmont District