Sunday, February 19, 2012

Holy Big Shots, Batman!

You may have noticed that I like to overuse that literary device called hyperbole. You know... using intentional exaggeration to drive home a point.  I've done it about 4,278 times on here.  I write that way because I speak that way. Hyperbole is the favorite verbal toy of the drama queen.

In fact, my family would say that I'm never satisfied with hyperbole. No, I tend to use what's called gross hyperbole. That's 'cause I like things big. Really, really big.

Big words. Big laugh. Big hair. Big love.

That brings me to my treasure this week... which I actually found last week. I was yakking about it when I  baptized Della in the Coffee River.

My class is in between units, you see, and so we're doing a little seasonal camping in the concept of love. In no big surprise, we spent last Sunday in the oft- quoted chapter of love, 1 Corinthians 13.

Of course, whatever  Paul writes to the Corinthians, The Church of the Hot Mess, he writes to address a problem.  Since we can't really understand the solution presented in chapter 13 without understanding the problem in chapter 12, we started there.

So what was the big problem?

It's what my niece calls greedy gift grabbing. Believe it or not,  they were fighting over spiritual gifts.  Why? Well, for the same reason that we fight over them today, of course. They wanted the power attached to them.

They figured the bigger the gift, the bigger the role, and the bigger the role, the greater the power. They wanted to be holy big shots.  Can we relate?

So after  Paul explains that all gifts belong to the same Spirit...
And that all gifts are given to benefit the whole body...
And that one gift does not make for a bigger shot than another gift...

He stops.

And in  I Corinthians 12:31 he says this,

But desire the greater gift. 

Wait.... so there is one gift that's greater than the rest?  Apparently so.  In fact, since that word for greater actually means more powerful,  he says that there is one gift that's more powerful than all the others.  If we're going to lust after gifts, he says, lust after that one.  Then, he continues.

And now, I will show you the more excellent way. 

And that's where I found the treasure. I almost glazed over the word excellent, but I'm glad I didn't. Just guess what Greek word is used for the term excellent here...

Wait for it...

It's  Hyperbole!

That just jazzed me.  Right there in His inspired Word, God literally uses hyperbole. Since he stuck that modifier in there... more excellent... I'll take some scriptural liberty and say that it's not plain old hyperbole either; it's gross hyperbole.  I love God. He's such a Drama King.  I think He would give me permission to paraphrase it this way:

Of all the gifts we could crave, one of them is a gazillion times more powerful than all the rest.

Is it faith, wisdom, or knowledge? 
Healing, miracle working, or prophecy? 
No. No. And No again. 

It's love. 

Not being loved, mind you, but giving it.   

Oh, it's easy to believe that being on the receiving end of love is a great gift. We humans are nothing if not all about ourselves after all, but that's not where the power lies. The power lies in really and truly loving others the way that God loves us, even when... especially when...  the loving isn't easy.  

The rest of that famous chapter tells us exactly how to do it.

Loving with patience when the person is difficult
Loving with kindness that feels the pain
Choosing love when our flesh wants to envy
Choosing silence when our flesh wants to boast
Choosing love over self...

And the list goes on.

So there you have it. God's little treasure in one big word.  If we want to be holy big shots, we need only do one thing: Turn on the hyperbolic power of love.

Yeah, I know... well, of course..

Comments off as usual for Sunday


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