Last week, I wrote a post imploring preachers everywhere to find a place for 1 Cor 12:31b. After two weeks of hearing how Paul handled a church tearing itself apart over whose gifts were more important, it seems important that we hear how he transitions for bitter infighting to his great love hymn. “I will show you a more excellent way,” he writes. There is not shortage of memes dealing with the word excellent. Having used the classic late-80s film, Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure last week, I decided to forego Wayne’s World as it is another buddy comedy, and will instead use a show that defined my adolescent years.
The way that Paul shows the Corinthian church isn’t the way of greed that Mr. Burns would follow. Instead, it is the way of love. As I researched for Sunday’s sermon, I came across Brian Petersen’s commentary in which he writes these words: “Faith will one day become sight, and hope will end in fulfillment. Love will still remain, however, because God’s love will not fall, fail, or falter.” As I read those words, I began to realize that because God is love, love is an end unto itself. Love is its own telos, and when we love our neighbor in the way that Paul describes; when we agape love our neighbor by showing patience, by acting with kindness, by eschewing envy, boasting, and arrogance, by seeking the common good, and rejoicing in the truth we are living into the fullness of God’s will for us. We bring the kingdom of God to earth when we love one another.
No doubt, that is a more excellent way. It is a way that brings heaven to earth. It is a way that, if only for a moment, brings the not yet into the already. It is a way of realized eschatology, an apocalyptic vision of the age to come that isn’t full of firey skies and tribulation, but is a model of the perfect love that has existed within the Trinity of God from before creation. This way is prefect.