Pursue love / 1 Corinthians 13 and 14:1; Luke 4 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, January 30, 2022 / Season of Epiphany
Text: 1 Corinthians 13 and 14; Luke 4:31-44
Theme: Pursue Love
Intr – As we drive Ring Road north passing by the Refinery skyline we see something very common over refineries and petrochemical facilities as the steam come out of its towers. A mom driving with her 5 year old passing by the refinery asked the little one, “Honey, do you know what that is?”, to which promptly answered, “Yes, mom. It is a cloud factory. Isn’t that awesome?”
You can’t blame him, it really looks like one from a 5 year old perspective. As we grow in stature and in knowledge though we understand better what is going on. On the outside, from a distance, it still may look like a cloud factory and in our most colourful days we may even romanticize it like that. But we know there’s a chemical, physical process going on that can be clearly explained. Here’s a short one: “There are a couple of different sources of the white "clouds" that appear over refineries and petrochemical facilities. One source is the cooling towers. The other source is the wet gas scrubber. Both processes produce steam. The "smoke" that you see above the facility is really steam. Both of these processes cause evaporation. When the vapors mix with the airstream, steam clouds form at the top of the stacks.”
This is how the descriptions and explanations about Love that we see in our world look like sometimes: cloud factories. Five-year-old, romanticized - and often shallow - descriptions. “Love is love.” “All we need is love.” “If done for love nothing is forbidden.” “Jesus came to preach love”, and others. You look at Love and make it mean what you want it to be.
The matter of the fact is that Love is a four letter word that has a world of meaning behind it. I know I can’t aspire to convey “Love” in one sermon. But I think 1 Corinthians 13 gives us the occasion today to get a little past of the “cloud factory” mentality and dig a little deeper in what it means for us as Christians, the love that, speaking of clouds, Psalm 108 describes:“For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” 
1 – Love is God
Paul describes Love in such a perfect way that we are left wondering if that ever was written for us. Can anybody love the way Paul describes love in the epistle?
There is only one that can do it perfectly. God. God is Love. God is the one who is perfectly “patient and kind; does not envy or boast; is not arrogant 5 or rude. Does not insist on its own way; is not irritable or resentful; does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”, and so forth. God is perfect, and God is perfect Love.
2 – Love is Christ
How then do we see, experience, realize God’s Love? For we know that God loved the World and it was His desire to show His great love to save humankind from sin and heal.
God revealed himself in Christ, His Only Son. If you want to find Love, you go to Christ. And what do we find in Christ? In Luke chapter 4 we have one of the places to find the answer “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Christ came to show God’s love in Grace, forgiveness and new life. He came to save. He came to people and for people.
Jesus said: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose”. Jesus’ purpose was to love people, to preach to them, to die for them, to come back to life for them. He is of the Father’s love begotten, and we are begotten of His Loving Work on the Cross, applied to us by faith.
This is the first and basic sense of Love in our Christian life. Love is God. Love is Christ. So whenever we talk about love, about a loving attitude; if we say love is love, and that all we need is love; that Jesus came to preach love, we are connecting love with the source of it which is ours by faith: Christ.
3 – Love is faith in action
But the Bible also talks about love in our daily life. The Gospels are full of passages where we are called to love - even our enemies. John in his first epistle also tells us that we can’t say we love God if we don’t love our brothers and sisters. Love is not just a substantive, but it is also a verb of action. Paul shows us in 1 Corinthians how love is active.
-Love is patient and kind; the first meaning is clear, as Christians we try to exercise patience and kindness as much as we can. We should brush off the excuse of “what can I do? I’m short tempered, this is how I am”. We might be like that, but that shouldn’t mean we need to act like that. As we know for example, that we all covet something at some point, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to go and take the thing we are coveting.
Now, being patient and kind doesn’t imply we are condescending with error. Remember, our love is God, so we stand for His truth. That means we will be patient in kind even when people don’t like that we will stand for the truth.
-Love does not envy or boast; Envying and boasting are never good virtues do be cultivated. But we can think here also of avoiding envy not only of what is good, but also of what’s not good. We don’t need to crave for the life the world loves, as beautiful and perfect and happy as it may appear to be, when it is not on the same page with God’s love and Will.
_Love is not arrogant or rude. – We speak the truth in love, because love is not arrogant. As sinners we may sometimes be arrogant or rude, but actually we have zero reasons to be so. Think about it, what is it that could justify being arrogant with any person? The fact that you're richer, or smarter, or you have the purest doctrine, or you go to the most right and saint Church, or live in the best city, have the best family or…? Our life is lived in the perspective of Christ, that’s why there is really no reason left to be arrogant. Not a single one. “Never look down on a person unless you are trying to lift him or her up.”
_Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; Selfishness is addressed here, and that could be considered the king of all other sins. Paul writes elsewhere that the love of money is the root of all evil, and when we think that love for money stems from selfishness, from insisting in our own way…then we have the whole picture.
In addition to this, if we think we are always right, there is probably something wrong with us. One of the things that would be lacking here would be love, for love “doesn’t insist on its own way,” leading to resentment and irritation. Love looks for balance, equilibrium and also humbleness to realize the occasions when more than one way is possible.
_Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth – The joy of the Lord is our strength. We rejoice in the Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the life. We can never and will never endorse wrong doing from our Christian perspective. But connecting to the former descriptions of love in 1 Co 13 patience and kindness can weigh in when we deal with wrongdoing. Again, we have zero reasons to be arrogant with no person whatsoever. When we speak truth in love, when we stand for the truth in love, when we rejoice with the truth in love, we are mirroring God’s own way of acting with each one of us sinners whose live has daily wrongdoings, but also has daily forgiveness and Grace.
_Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things – To Bear, Believe, Hope, Endure. These four verbs describe our practical life as it flows from God’s love through faith. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take everything as it comes without fighting back in some cases, for sometimes we do fight back when needed. To bear, believe, hope, to endure all things boils down to Christ and faith in Him. No matter what happens or what comes, no matter what we need to face or endure, or just enter in resignation, what we don’t want to see is our heart disconnected from Christ, our life departed from His Word, our souls disowned from the eternal life. We will stand in Christ and in Him we will endure, we will bear, and we will believe and we will hope. Because we know, as the disciples confessed in John 6: “Jesus, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.
This is why Paul recommends us in 14:1: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts”.
Pursue love – Pursue God. Never leave Him. Bear, Believe, Hope, Endure.
Pursue love – your faith in action. Especially, the spiritual gifts that come from the Lord and build up the body of Christ, His Church.
Cc – Love. The greatest of all. And it is not only a substantive, but a verb of action too. God’s action towards us. Our action in faith towards God and towards our neighbour. “God’s love is great above the heavens; His faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Love is a word, and a verb, containing a world of meaning, but which can be simple and clear enough to be experienced in life. And, as Christ requested, to be believed unconditionally. Just like five year olds do.
 “There are a couple of different sources of the white "clouds" that appear over refineries and petrochemical facilities. One source is the cooling towers. During the refining process, we heat fluids, sometimes to more than 140 degrees. Then we need to cool them down again. A cooling tower uses the process of heat exchange to relocate heat from one liquid to another. In this case, water. The other source is the wet gas scrubber. The wet gas scrubber is a pollution control device that ensures that byproducts from the processing of crude oil do not escape into the atmosphere. Exhaust from the refining process enters a vessel that blows the gas up through several stages of sprays, capturing the contaminants in water droplets. The gas is propelled upwards by a fan, through a column of packing materials, which stops the droplets dead in their tracks.
Both processes produce steam. The "smoke" that you see above the facility is really steam. Both of these processes cause evaporation. When the vapors mix with the airstream, steam clouds form at the top of the stacks.” Available at: https://empower.afpm.org/environment/whats-coming-out-stack Access: January 28th, 2022
 Psalm 108:4
 1 John 4
 Nehemiah 8:10
 Matthew 19;14; Mark 10:13-15