“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
One day in the summer of 2003, I stood on a street corner in New York City debating with a young man about why I thought the Bible was real. I was in Manhattan with a group from my church. We were there to promote a new church in the city by passing out subway maps and other literature.
This man who stopped to talk to me proclaimed himself a student of religion. He had studied many holy books and wanted to know my thoughts on the difficulties he saw with the Bible being authentic.
At the end of our conversation, I felt proud that I had intelligently countered his arguments. But looking back now, I am bothered by the realization that my knowledge probably did little to bring him closer to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We parted, both of us still entrenched in our own understandings.
Having background knowledge of our faith is important, but if we don’t love people the way Jesus did, then, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, we are just noise.
What if I had asked about his family? What if I had asked to pray for him? What if I had encouraged him to open his heart to a love that is bigger than his understanding?
Second-guessing myself is never helpful. However, in the future I want to focus my attention less on winning a debate and more on showing God’s love to those who need to see it.
Lord, break any fear that You see in me. Holy Spirit, teach me how to love the people around me the way You do. In Jesus’ name, amen.