Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
5-6 Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
7-8a Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. (JBP)
It is quite common for those both inside and outside the Christian church to read texts like this and go all misty-eyed at the talk of love. Some even go on to say that if only Christians would talk more about love that we would gain a better hearing. Or if only preachers would focus on love their congregations would feel so much better about themselves.
All of which means we haven’t really grasped the meaning and the challenge of texts like this. This appeal for us to love one another is anything but comfortable, anything but nice sentiment. To love another human being in this all-embracing way is to deny our own basic egocentricity. It is far more than a pleasant feeling or an erotic attraction. It leads us into pain as well as pleasure, disappointment as well as delight.
The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke said that “for one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation”. He is right. If we find such love a challenge, it means we have rightly understood its radical nature.
This sort of love doesn’t come naturally, it comes supernaturally. So we need all the supernatural help we can get.