Summer of Love: # 2

July 2, 2017

 How
many people remember the “Love is” comic strips?  You are really showing your age.
The comic was a collection of single panel
strips that began as a kind of private love story told by New Zealand artist
Kim Casali to her future husband Roberto.
It started with private little notes with a
small drawing that Kim wrote for Roberto, she’d tuck them in his pocket or send
them to him when he was travelling. 
What started as a private conversation
turned into booklets in the late sixties before appearing as syndicated comic
strip under the pen name “Kim” in 1970. 
The syndication coincided very closely to
the 1970 movie “Love Story” which of course contained the classic line
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”  How remembers the movie?  Who cried at the movie? 
In response to that line Ray Bradbury
said  “In that film Love Story, there’s a
line, Love means never having to say you’re sorry. That’s the dumbest thing I
ever heard. Love means saying you’re sorry every day for some little thing or
other.”
And Kim must have agreed with Ray because
probably the most famous of her comics said, “Love Is…being able to say
you are sorry”, and it was published for years on cards, posters and
coffee cups. 
At its peak in the seventies “Love Is” was
earning Casali an estimated 10 million dollars a year.
And while it was never connected with the
Summer of Love it contained the sentiment of the event whose mantra was “Make
Love, Not War”.
But the statement “Love is . . .” goes back
a lot further than the 1960s.
This is the fiftieth anniversary of the
Summer of Love, when 100,000 Hippies and Flower Children descended on San
Francisco’s Haight Asbury district.  And
in 2017 we are celebrating the Summer of Love at Cornerstone by focusing on 1
Corinthians 13, the Bible’s chapter of Love.
And that’s where we find the statement
“Love is. . .”
A short portion of the scripture was read
for us earlier, now I’m going to invite you to stand as we read this
responsively.  I will read the white text
and you can read the yellow text. 
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I could speak all the languages of earth and
of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging
cymbal. 
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing. 
If I gave everything I have to the poor and
even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would have
gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or
rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record
of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is
always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages
and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 
Now our knowledge is partial and
incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole
picture! 
But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless. 
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and
reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away childish
things. 
Now we see things imperfectly as in a
cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and
incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows
me completely. 
Three things will last forever—faith, hope,
and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This morning we are going to focus on the
first part of  1 Corinthians 13:4  Love is patient and kind. . .
And so Paul begins by telling us that Love
is Patient  In the King James Version it
tells us that Love is “Long Suffering” and that probably draws a better word
picture here.  The Greek word that Paul
used always describes patience with people and not patience with circumstances.
And there is a vast difference, you can
embrace and embody patience with things, and your life verse can be Romans
12:12  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be
patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 
And even though you are patient in trouble and patient in circumstances
you can still be impatient with people and that isn’t what love is all about.
I don’t struggle with road rage but
sometimes I struggle with grocery store rage. 
“Seriously people, if you are going to meander don’t do it in the middle
of the aisle.”    And so, I need this as
much as anybody does.
So, who are we to be patient with?  I think that there are many of you, me
included, who need to learn to Be Patient with Yourself  You know what I mean, you hold yourself to a
much higher standard then you hold other people.
There are things you do, which you would
find excusable in others that are inexcusable in your own behavior. 
And your self talk reflects your
impatience, “I’m so clumsy” “I’m so stupid”, “I’ll never be able to do this”
“I’ll always be fat”. 
Lighten up a bit on yourself.  I don’t mean go to the other extreme, where
you excuse everything you do.  But just
be patient, don’t expect instant perfection or instant knowledge. 
It was Saint Francis de Sales who wrote
“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.”
One of the things that we often miss in
Jesus’ words is found in the account when Jesus was asked what the Greatest
Commandment was and most of you are familiar with his response.  Matthew 22:37-39  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your
God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest
commandment.  A second is equally
important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
If I was to ask you “How many commandments
are there?” Most of you would reply by saying “Two, love God and love our
neighbours.” 
But how are you supposed to love your
neighbour?  You are supposed to love them
as you love yourself.  And sometimes I
think that is the problem, we don’t even like ourselves very much and that is
reflected in how we treat those around us.
If there are things that you do, or don’t
do that bug you, you have a couple of options.
The first is if it’s something you can
change or learn, then do it.  Change it
or learn it, and be patient in the process. 
You can lose weight, you can beat that addiction, you can learn that new
skill.  But it might not happen
today.  So cut yourself a little slack.
And if it is something that you just aren’t
gifted in or don’t have the ability to do well, then do it the best that you
can and don’t beat yourself up about it because you can’t be as good as your
cousin’s nephew’s wife’s brother is at it.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote  “Good character is not formed in a week or a
month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient
effort is needed to develop good character.”
In the same vein, my mother had a plaque in
our kitchen when I was growing up that said “Yard by yard life is hard, inch by
inch it is a cinch.”  
You probably aren’t going to change
overnight, so just be patient with yourself.
In the letters that Paul wrote there are a
number that we call the pastoral letters Paul was writing and giving directions
to those who he had left in place to pastor and shepherd the early
churches. 
One of those letters was written to Timothy
and this is what Paul told him, 2 Timothy 2:24 
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be
able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
And perhaps as we develop more patience
with ourselves it will help us to  Be
Patient with Others
This is where dealing with grocery store
rage comes in, the fact that someone is blocking the cereal aisle for an extra
two minutes probably isn’t really that important in the big scheme of things.
And each of us is impatient with different
types of people.  Maybe you’ve never
experienced “grocery store rage” but you are more in line with Edith Sitwell
who wrote “I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
Or perhaps you need to heed the advice of
the Jewish teacher Solomon ben Judah  who
taught “The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones.” I’m a
little obsessive about time, I hate being late for anything.  And I have very little patience for people
who are consistently late. 
It is something that I struggle with and it
is something that I have to work at.  And
yeah if I had more love it wouldn’t bother me that you were late, on the other
hand if you had more love you’d be a little more considerate of my time. 
And I have to be reminded every once in a
while that being early is no more on time than being late is.
 And
yeah, it even means being patient with jerks, which is probably why the older
translations refer to it as “Long Suffering”. 
Paul didn’t say it would be easy, as a matter of fact this type of
patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit.  
In Galatians 5 we read Galatians 5:22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of
fruit in our lives: and then Paul begins to list the characteristics that are
demonstrated by those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. . .
So, the question is, with the Spirit’s
help, how do we become more patient with people?  Start by praying for them.  It’s amazing how much difference that will
make in your outlook and how you see folks.
Start praying for yourself.  Often times the things that really bug you
about other people don’t bug them at all and maybe don’t bug anybody else.  Maybe it’s your problem not theirs.
Do you know why we are impatient with
people?  The reason you’re impatient with
people is probably the same reason I’m impatient with people.  Because they aren’t doing it my way. 
They aren’t driving the way I’d drive, they
aren’t shopping the way I’d shop, they aren’t parenting the way I’d parent,
they don’t preach the way I’d preach, they don’t enjoy the music I enjoy. 
If they’d only do it my way there’d be no
problem. 
Here’s a word of advice, you ready?  Get over it and get over yourself.  My way may be the best way for Denn, and
really it probably isn’t, but my way probably isn’t the best way for everyone
else or for anyone else for that matter. 
The next step is to become a little more
understanding. 
You know the old adage, “Never judge a
person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”  To which I usually add, “Then you’re a mile
away and you have their shoes.”  But the
reality is that you usually don’t know what type of day or what type of life
that person has been experiencing.
Even if you’re married to them you might
not fully understand all they are going through.
And once you stop and think about the other
stuff that might be shuffling around in their lives it might help you to be a
little more patient in the areas where their lives intersect yours.
The first two probably make sense to you
but how about this, true love means that you learn to Be Patient with God
Honestly, have you ever been disappointed
with God? Wondered why He did or didn’t do what he did or didn’t do?  That he didn’t heal you or a loved one, that
he didn’t give you that job that you knew would be perfect or that he didn’t
make your husband or your wife or your child or your friend a Christian? Or
that he didn’t do it when you thought he should do it.
Sometimes, just plain and simple God isn’t
going to operate outside of the limits that he has put in place.  And one of those limits is free will. 
We want to have free will but too often we
want God to take that same gift away from other people. 
So, we pray “Please God make my spouse or
my child or my friend a Christian.”  And
that sounds like a good prayer, a prayer that should be in the will of
God. 
But, did he make you become a Christian or
did he allow you to make that decision? 
Or we pray “don’t let my child make bad
decisions” or “take away my desire for making bad decisions.”  And then we are disappointed because we make
those bad decisions and become impatient with God and blame him for not
stopping us from doing what we choose to do.
But God doesn’t work by removing our free
will and making us to do some things and not do other things.
Nope, he will bring people into their path
and into your path to help you make the right decision but at the end of the
day you are paddling your own Canoe. 
(That is a cultural reference inserted at this point to help celebrate
Canada’s 150th birthday.)
And sometimes, as hard as it is to
admit,  God, creator of all things,
master of the universe is smarter than we are. 
Really, he is.
The reason we get impatient with God is the
same reason we get impatient with people, he doesn’t do it our way or in our
time.
In the first 10 years that Cornerstone was
a church we worshipped in rented facilities and I was always looking for
property to build on, and I found five different “perfect” properties.  And they all fell through. 
I was so impatient with God, “What was he
thinking? Didn’t he understand?” 
Of course none of those pieces of property
were at a set of lights, across from not one but 2 Tim Hortons with 18,000 cars
a day passing by.  Maybe that’s what he
was thinking of. 
There is a statement in Hebrews chapter 11
that comes when the author of the book is describing heroes of faith in the Old
Testament it says Hebrews 11:13  All
these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not
receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.
. . 
We will get to see some of God’s promises
fulfilled, and there will be others that we will die still believing what God
has promised us.
God wants the very best for us, Paul
reminds us in  Romans 2:4  Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that
his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
We need to learn to be patient with God,
after all he’s been patient with us.
And God wants us to be patient and he wants
to give us patience.    Did you catch
that?  The patience you need isn’t
learned it is given.
In Galatians we are told that is comes when
our lives are controlled by the spirit and listen to Paul’s prayer for the
Christ Followers who lived in Rome: 
Romans 15:5  May God, who gives
this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each
other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.   
That’s my prayer for you, May God, who
gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with
each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.   
And then we are told that not only is love
patient but that love is Kind  Wanting to
make sure I understood all the nuances of this word I went back to original
language to look at the Greek word that Paul used here that is translated as
“kind”.  
And then I read six different commentaries
and they all agreed that the original meaning of the word kind actually meant.
. . “kind”.
So how does that work in real life, just
don’t be a jerk and be nice to people. 
Smile, say please, hold doors and be pleasant.  Kindness is another characteristic that is
mentioned in Galatians 5 as evidence that the Holy Spirit is in control of your
life.   
We can hold true to our doctrines and
theology and not be kind.
William Barclay wrote in the Daily Study
Bible,  “So much Christianity is good but
unkind. There was no more religious a man than Philip the Second of Spain, and
yet he founded the Spanish Inquisition and thought he was serving God by
massacring those who thought differently from him.”
I think I’d disagree with Barclay when he
said “So much of Christianity is good but unkind”  to “Some of Christianity is good but
unkind”.  We can’t excuse the unkindness
of Christians but remember that through the ages so much of the goodness and
kindness in this world has come through those who follow Christ and seek to
emulate him by taking care of the sick, defending the weak and feeding the
hungry.
So in closing, let’s each of  us remember the instructions that Paul gave
Timothy. . .  2 Timothy 2:24  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but
must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult
people.
Be kind to everyone and be patient with
difficult people, it isn’t easy.  But it
is love.