If you had to guess what the most common last names in the world are, what would you say? You probably know many people who have these as their last name, but what came to mind? Three of the most common last names in the entire world are: Smith, Johnson, and Jones. That’s maybe not surprising because we’ve heard them many times before…that’s why they’re common.
We can go even a level deeper. Readers’ Digest asked the same question for the individual states that make up the USA and here is what they found for Minnesota. The three most common names in the state of Minnesota are: Johnson, Anderson, and Nelson. Do you know anybody with those surnames?
Now when it comes to things that occur frequently, like popular last names, one can dive into a litany of other words that show up all the time in our minds, our everyday speech, and our vocabulary. One of those words absolutely has to be the word that we will be looking at this week from 1 Corinthians 13. It defines the entire chapter. It’s love!
Love is in the air and love is everywhere. People talk about it all the time in a variety of ways to describe their feelings regarding pizza, a good book, a new shirt, and their spouse. There is no shortage of this word, “love,” making its rounds in conversations all across the globe in every known language so what would make its inclusion in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth of any great significance?
As we look at these words regarding love in 1 Corinthians 13, we very quickly come to the realization that many of us sell the word “love” short when it comes to our use and understanding of it. Only God can take a term, or something we deem or see as “common,” and blow the doors off the meaning, expression, and definition as only He can. When we see love in its purest entirety, one quickly comes to grip with the fact that this is way bigger than maybe first expected. Love, as God defines it in Scripture, is way bigger than we could ever imagine or conjure up on our own.
I’m glad that God’s love for me goes beyond the way I would talk about how much I love French Fries. I need it to because I am limited in my scope, understanding, and giving of love. But that is why He gives it to us; so that we might continue to give it away to those around us. We are invited to love our family, friends, enemies, and neighbors in ways that we might not even think possible because of the great, expansive love that was first shown and given to us. It is when we see love through the lens that God intends us to that we can see this bigger picture. It is the picture that the Apostle Paul was communicating to the Corinthian church regarding their use of the gifts and abilities that God had given them, their place in the Body of Christ, and the humility that comes from being shown God’s indescribable love.
All of this talk about the way that God loves us reminds me of one of my favorite hymns obviously titled, “The Love of God.” My favorite verse ends the song this way:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure--
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette