The greatest of these is love

Old thoughts, worth sharing again.  It was about a year ago that I—living abroad and far too often expected as a token American to explain US politics—prepared this republication of a Facebook post made back in October of 2012, but I shied away from publishing it.  Our missionary organization discourages us from political involvement, and so I again distance myself from that aspect, seeking here only to encourage grace, love, and healing as a nation, regardless of the disagreements that too often and too greatly divide us.

Sometimes, I look at pictures from the February 2004 mission trip to Senegal and wonder how those kids are doing. I especially wonder about a boy, now a young man, named Adama, who declared himself in Wolof to be my friend. He followed me around, clowned with me, and shot at me with his toy ray gun.


I wonder often about the old man who asked me to take him to America and make him as prosperous as I must be given my obesity. He asked me to make him like me, and I joked that he should eat his cow.

jahmbowl-and-i-bI think of the old man on the train in Mongolia, a retired and highly decorated lawyer with a deeply wrinkled face and powerful hands, who reminded me of my Uncle Linus. He stayed up all night with me because I had horrible motion sickness, and he massaged my head and shoulders to help me feel better. He cared for me like I was his grandson, even though we couldn’t speak a word to each other.

As we approach the end of a typically vicious, hateful, divisive presidential election, I think we should remember that the world is full of goodness, love, and charity. I think we should remember that we are truly blessed but often forget or neglect those things. I think we should remember that reaching out to someone is more important than besting them in a debate or contest, and that the gestures we make to help others connect us to them in ways that we can neither comprehend nor forget.

Sometimes, people ask me what good comes from relationships made during missions trips, what good comes of a brief contact that often can’t or doesn’t continue. The truth is that any experience that broadens our understanding of the world and our neighbors throughout it, that lessens another’s burdens if only for a while, that offers the loving reciprocity of compassion and friendship, moves us closer to a world that offers and pursues love and further from the hate that destroys so many lives and nations.  Choose love.

Please pray for wisdom, peace, and healing for our nation.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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