Divine Love Must Be The Goal

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 after listing all the things that love is, in verse 8 he says, “Love never ends.” Too often Christians become preoccupied with debating the cessation of the spiritual gifts from this text as Paul continues by saying prophecy and tongues will cease. Many times Christians miss the purpose of this text by ignoring its simplicity. 1 Corinthians 13:8 begins with a three-word sentence, “Love never ends.” Paul’s point in this passage is that of all things, including gifts and miracles, the one thing that we know will remain for all eternity is divine love. We will no longer see God as if through a mirror dimly and our love for one another will one day never be selfish. Thabiti Anyebwile in his book, The Life of God in The Soul of The Church speaks of the fellowship of the saints in the following way,

…This fellowship does not rely on the flesh for its existence. It does not rely on physical things for its vibrancy and potency. I mean this fellowship has its power and essence in the nature of God…God is not bound by time, so this is a fellowship shared with the infinite Creator. Its sharing in the life of God in the soul of men that binds us together in a profound and new reality. This spiritual fellowship provides a binding more profound, thicker, stronger, and longer lasting than even blood ties.[1]

Anyebwile’s point is that the fellowship of the saints is one that is a joining in the fellowship of the eternal Godhead itself.[2] Because of this dynamic, the fellowship that the saints experience transcends time and space. God is love and the eternal fellowship of the Godhead has and always will be a relationship grounded in divine love. Since the church has entered into the fellowship of God, the fellowship of the saints is also an eternal reality that is grounded in divine love.

The reality that love is eternal should bring forth a godly zeal in the Christian to pursue it now. Disagreements, qualms, bitterness, and anger are all things that will pass away with the new creation. If bitterness ends and love continues forever should not the Christian pursue love? Understanding the eternality of love compels the Christian to love ferociously now. Love is of infinite value because our God is love, his son exemplified love, and his Spirit continues as his primary ministry is to work love in us. St. John Chrysostom, while commenting on 1 Corinthians 13:13’s command on abiding in love said the following,

If now so great is the virtue of love, with good reason doth he add and say, “Follow after love. For there is surely need of “following,” and a kind of vehement running after her: in such sort doth she fly from us, and so many are the things which trip us up in that direction. Wherefore we have ever need of great earnestness in order to overtake her. And to point out this, Paul said not, “follow love,” but, “pursue” her—stirring us up, and inflaming us to lay hold on her.[3]

Eschatology matters, and how the church understands love is of the utmost important. If the church has a view of love that only reaches the sky, it may aim and hit that goal but it will still come up tremendously short of what the goal should be, the heavens. If the church recognizes that the greatest pursuit it can undertake is the pursuit of love, a love that is eternal and divine, it will aim for eternity and the church will receive her goal when she is glorified and made into the likeness of the One who first loved her.

Now that we have covered a Biblical Theology of Divine Love, allow me to discuss how these truths play out in the Christian life. In the following blog posts, I will move from discussing a Biblical Theology of love to discussing how these truths can be applied practically and biblically:

  • How do the truths related to divine love affect a Christian marriage?
  • What about a saint who struggles with lust, specifically pornography?
  • Can applying the doctrine of divine love heal a broken relationship or be fuel that ignites forgiveness amid betrayal?

Issues like these will be discussed in the following post.

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[1] Thabiti M. Anyabwile, The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), 20.

[2] John 17

[3] John Chrysostom. (1889). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. In P. Schaff (Ed.), H. K. Cornish, J. Medley, & T. B. Chambers (Trans.), Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians (Vol. 12, p. 204). New York: Christian Literature Company.