It was certainly one of the most defining moments of my spiritual life up to that point.
A realization that I had viewed God all wrong until now dawned on me with such clarity that I knew I’d never be the same.
Up to this point, I was stunted by a fear that I would distort God’s image by focusing too much on grace and love – preaching an easy-greasy grace. I was afraid that I would make God into a permissive God by focusing too much on His love and not enough on His righteousness.
What resulted was an out-of-balance message that was critical and negative.
This lack of balance led to a preoccupation with what other Christians, pastors and leaders were doing until my own set of standards became so narrow that I was the only right one – the gold standard for Christian living.
In my early days of writing, I preached a strong message of holiness and righteousness that was angry and brash. I nit-picked at small details while completely unaware of my own greater sin of pride and self-righteousness.
In 2012 I began a journey through 1 Corinthians 13 that utterly changed my life. It opened my eyes to see God in a whole new way.
Is God holy? Is He righteous? Yes, of course. The Bible tells us to be holy as He is holy. It reminds us that righteousness, peace and joy are the Kingdom of God.
But He is also love and grace. If we focus on one side, while giving too little attention to the other, we run the danger of either growing critical, negative, and bitter or permissive and carnal.
It is God’s love that perfects His righteousness so that He is able to look upon us with understanding for our fallen nature that still so desires to be more like Him every day.
But His righteousness and holiness perfect His love so that it still demands from us a standard of holiness that will not allow us to live in intentional sin – using excuses for our lack of discipline.
And it was for this reason that Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church. They had allowed sin and immorality to exist in the body, along with major theological and doctrinal error.
And because this book is written to a church, we must also take chapter 13 within that context. 1 Corinthians wasn’t written within the context of marital or familial love. Rather, it was written as a model for the body of Christ to follow – how we should display love as a church to the world, and within the local church body.
Over the next 6 days, we will take this chapter and dig into it little by little until we have completely dissected it.
You can follow along in my book 14 Days of Agape, or you can just follow along this series.
Have you found yourself out of balance at times? Which side of God do you tend to focus on more?