13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13, Common English Bible).
I enjoy Texas Barbecue. I know, some of you don’t think Texas has a real barbecue. You’re wrong. I have had your barbecue too. What you have is good, You can call it barbecue (like I could stop you). Something is missing. It isn’t the meat. I think the meat is generally prepared the same (If I am wrong, don’t beat me up over it. I am trying to give you credit).
That leaves the sauce. There are differences in the sauce. I am not sure what all the differences are, but there are four basic categories. There are vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, and tomato-based. There are different sauces within each category.
Texas sauce is tomato-based. So, for me, the others may taste good, they are a nice change of pace, but without that tomato base, something is missing.
One night Cindy picked up ribs or some other meat we Texans cook on a fire and pour our barbecue sauce on. I got the pit ready and make some homemade sauce. No bottled sauce from the grocery store was going on these ribs.
I was right. That sauce was outstanding. I loved it. It was good. You folks who want other sauces, you missed out that night.
Fast forward a month or so. Cindy brought barbecue meat home again. I got excited. I was going to make that great sauce again. After I got the meat on the fire I went to the kitchen to make the sauce. I had a problem. I didn’t think I would it but I did. I didn’t write anything down. I pulled out the ingredients. I thought I put the same amount of the same ingredients into the pan, heated them up, and tried it. It wasn’t right. It was off. I added some of this or that. Tasted it again and it still wasn’t right. I kept trying and I couldn’t get it right. It was like one of those other sauces. It wasn’t what it should be.
Life can be like that. Our society values the idea of personal independence, the idea of rugged individualism. We want to say, “I did this on my own. I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. I don’t need anyone or anything.” We push people away thinking I am an island unto myself.
We are wrong. None of us are islands unto ourselves. None of us do it by ourselves. There are teachers, coaches, friends, spouses, parents, bosses, coworkers, and more. Would the concert pianist be that without a teacher? What about parents taking the student to lessons?
We also miss out spiritually. We think about happy lives, but we are missing something. When people walk away from faith because of wrongs seen in others (and there is plenty of mistakes to see in us as we are human) but we miss the things of God giving life real meaning.
When we give up on those things and try to make our way alone, we look for ways to fill the holes in our lives. We try to fill it with other things. Drugs and alcohol, self-medicating and when we fail, double down with more of the same. It doesn’t work. To quote an old Johnny Lee, song, we’re “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”
What is missing is on us. We miss relationships. We miss connections. We isolate ourselves from others and from God.
Our lesson tells us about three important needs, faith, hope, and love. Paul says the most important of the three is love. Without having relationships we miss the mark. We need friends and family supporting us but also will tell us we are wrong. These are people bringing love to our lives.
What we really need most is God. Why? Because Scripture tells us God is love. Without love, particularly divine love, faith is impossible and real hope, a hope that says I have no reason to fear, is equally out of reach.
I don’t understand how someone can live life without God’s presence in them. Without God in us, there is no faith. Without God, hope is small, but where God is, there is always hope.
This isn’t barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce may taste OK without a key ingredient but there is something important, a missing ingredient that keeps it from being as great as it should be.
Paul says, “Faith, hope, and love abide these three…” When one is missing, we may think life is good. But it is a feeling that won’t last. Without any of the three, especially love life won’t be all it could or should be.
Open your heart to accept the faith, hope and love God offers. You needn’t have any missing ingredients. They are all available to each of us.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved