Love makes the church look attractive. It may not “make the world go around,” but God has certainly placed a priority on love among Christians. Our book of the Month for October is Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken. A quick take on the book reveals that it is an exposition of the great love chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. But looking more closely, you will see that the principles taught by Paul are also practiced by the Lord Jesus. That is what Ryken attempts to do throughout the book as he states on page 34:
First Corinthians 13 gives us a composite picture of love. To see that picture as clearly as possible, we will connect every word to Christ and then make further connections to our own lives. The love that Jesus has shown to us proves to be the same love that he wants us to show to others.
I especially appreciated the many chapters that used an incident related to the crucifixion to illustrate the type of love we should have. For example, in chapter 8 Ryken looks to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed to His Father “…let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” We see in this situation exactly what Paul was teaching in 1 Corinthians 13:5 when he said that love “does not insist on its own way.” This gives you a unique way of looking at a familiar event in the life of Christ, as well as a great way to “preach the gospel” to yourself.
Each chapter takes this same approach. Life of Christ illustrations of love are demonstrated from the feeding of the 5,000 (Ryken calls it the feeding of the 5,012. Read the book to find out why), raising Lazarus from the dead, washing the disciples’ feet and several others. I always wondered why Jesus waited for two days before going to see Lazarus if he loved him so much. Why didn’t He go right away? You’ll find out how that experience is a great example of Jesus showing us that love is patient.
There are a couple of chapters that are not illustrations from a specific experience in the life of Christ, but rather a lesson on love from an epistle. But it still shows the love of Jesus. That’s what he does in the last chapter “Love Never Fails” (this is perhaps my favorite chapter), where he uses Romans 8:35-39 to show that there is absolutely nothing that will ever separate the believer from the love of Christ.
The great love chapter of the Bible is so much more than just some words to be read at a wedding ceremony. If you think you have the “love” thing down, I suggest you do what Ryken suggests: Read 1 Corinthians 13, but replace the word “love” with your own name (“Jim is patient” or “Jim is kind” and “Jim never fails”). Then read it again, but substitute the name of Jesus for the word love. Then you’ll see that you can use some more help with loving others. Loving the Way Jesus Loves will give you the lessons you need to do just that.