Coffee Break: Love

Pete BardwellCoffee Break

Pete Bardwell holding a coffee mug

Welcome to a fresh coffee break video blog series: Love.

I have heard from one or two people that we have been inundated with video content these past few months so I thought I’d simply write some things instead! So put the kettle on, make your brew of choice and I pray that as you read you’ll be blessed and encouraged.

1 Corinthians 13 is a much ‘loved’ portion of scripture… no pun intended… It begins by expressing that whatever else we may do or have, without love, we gain nothing. The chapter continues with that amazing set of verses describing facets of what love is…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” and so on…

Some years ago I found myself stuck on verse 13…

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

There was something comforting about this verse—the way I had always read it—that regardless of whatever else is going on or however much I understand, we can be confident that these three things exist—these fundamental elements, the greatest of them being love…

But as I really thought about the verse, them just existing, or ‘remaining’ as my trusty NIV puts it, it left me feeling less… how can I put it…full, less content and even less connected than the author probably intended, after all this is the epic ‘love chapter’ of the bible!

I then jumped ship and read the verse again, this time in the ESV and immediately had something of an encounter. (I’ve since learned that reading multiple translations can lead us into encounter moments as the Holy Spirit leads us into fresh revelations).

Let’s reread the verse again but from the ESV:

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Well now, I know it may just look like we’ve swapped a word but for me that word ‘abide’ flooded me with a wonderful set of thoughts which brought such life to me. Abiding to me sounded alive and relational. Faith, hope and love are not just ‘qualities’ to emulate, they are present because God is present:

Faith exists all around you because they (the trinity) are all around you!

Hope is more real than your mug of tea and your biscuit because they are totally and fully with you!

And love… you are so loved and cared for—you are only just scratching the surface of how loved and accepted and delighted in and liked you are!!!!

If you are struggling in any way right now, please reread that last paragraph. Is faith a challenge? Any sense of hopelessness? Does love feel far off? Abiding is the verb of the noun ‘abode’: “a place of residence; a house or a home.”

Talk of Location,location location! The God-head have come and set up home in you and all around you. They call you home. You haven’t just had a deposit of godly personality traits left with you, Faith, hope and love have moved in, filling you with themselves and therefore have unlimited reserves of faith and hope and love for you to bless you and flood the world around you. “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abide sin him.” 1 John 16–4:13 ESV

I’m not saying ‘remain’ is wrong. The Greek word “menó” can be used both ways. It’s just that for me ‘remaining’ on its own seemed to suggest that these ‘things’ of faith hope and love’ are all that are left like “there are only three pieces of pizza left” or in a game “you have two lives remaining”. It seemed to suggest lack, “If I can just hold on to these things I’ll be ok… I’ll make it”. But knowing that they are who my God is and that he hasn’t just left ‘qualities’ with me… but he imparts himself to me constantly has reframed this verse and in turn my outlook on my life. I see myself as inhabited and surrounded and protected and sent out all at the same time and I see you that way too.