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Last weekend I was on my ever so anticipated Chrysalis flight. And for those of you who don’t know what Chrysalis/Emmaus is, it is a Thursday-Sunday Christian retreat. On top of being incredibly busy during the weekend, I was also not allowed to bring any electronics. Yes. No phone. No iPad or computer. No iPod. Nothing. Therefore, I had no communication with the outside world. And therefore, I wasn’t able to blog. But.. never fear! I have returned. 🙂

If you ever get the chance to attend a Chrysalis/Emmaus weekend, go. Point blank. No questions asked. Just go. You can learn more about Chrysalis/Emmaus here. And if you have gone, but have never teamed on a weekend. DO IT. When teaming, you know what is going to happen next, so you are able to really let everything sink in without being overwhelmed by it all. I almost think I get more out of the weekend each time I team than when I went the very first time. However, each weekend is such a wonderful experience and you leave with so many amazing memories and friendships.

Throughout the Chrysalis weekend, you experience time and time again God’s everlasting love. God doesn’t ask for anything in return. He gives His love freely. Without a second thought, He wraps us up in His arms and loves us. Unlike other religions, we don’t earn God’s grace. There is nothing in this world that we can do to make Him love us any more or any less. He simply loves us because we are His children. There were numerous times throughout the weekend that I saw the love of Jesus.. in people’s eyes, by their selfless acts, in prayer and devotion.. let’s just say.. I left on Sunday filled with so much of God’s agape love.

And as Jesus says, “As I have loved you, so you must love another.” God calls us to go out and love others. To show the love that He has shown us. To love those who persecute us. To love the unloveable. The infamous scripture read at weddings, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” God calls us to truly love others. But.. do we.. do we really?!

I’ll be frank with you and admit that I struggle with truly loving others. Even within friendships and family, my love tends to fall short. I’m not a patient person, no matter who you are. I tend to value my time much more than yours. If you’re running late, I’m angry. But if I’m the one running late, it doesn’t bother me. And as referenced in this post, I’m pretty self-seeking. And too often I limit my expressions of love for those who I feel only deserve it.

But, God isn’t calling us to love only the worthy and righteous. God is referring to a charitable, affectionate and benevolent love, whether deserved or not. He wants us to express this kind of love in our marriages, in our friendships, to those who have wronged us and even to perfect strangers. This love that God calls us to show others is the same love that sent His Son for the world. This is Christ’s love for the church. This type of love is essential to all things. This love acts. It acts in the sixteen characteristics that Paul listed in 1st Corinthians. And with this long list of love actions, it seems an almost impossibly tall order to live up to.

And to be honest, we can’t live up to it. At least not alone. When we have the love of Christ within us, we have His love compelling us to love each other. Yes, there is hope for us! You and I can both love others this way because we are loved so perfectly by our God. It won’t be easy, but Christ has lifted our burdens so that we may go out and try again. To be patient. To be kind. To never be jealous. To not keep score.

My challenge for you today is to not just go and read 1 Corinthians 13, but to pray it. Take the middle verses that speak of those 16 love actions and make it into a personal prayer by replacing the word ‘love’ or ‘it’ with your own name. (To make it easier, just insert your name into the blanks below.)

_____ is patient, _____ is kind. _____ does not envy, ______ does not boast, _____ is not proud. _____ is not rude, _____ is not self-seeking, _____ is not easily angered, _____ keeps no record of wrongs. ______ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. _____ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. _____ never fails.

Read the scripture slowly and deliberately, asking God to burn its message into your heart and mind. If any particular phrase leaps out at you or grabs your attention, then stop and ponder it. Focus on it and ask the Holy Spirit to really make it clear what He is trying to say to you. I pray that you and I can both make the necessary changes in our lives to become better 1 Corinthians 13 Christians.