1 Corinthians 16:9-24
This closing section is full of love:
Aquila and Priscilla loving each other: Although this is not explicitly stated, it is implicit. They were very much together; a couple in Christ and for Christ. They were bound together with the threefold cord that is not easily broken (Ecc.3:12), their lives intertwined with Christ’s. Thinking about them I am reminded of some words of David Pawson, that being in love isn’t a matter of sitting looking into each other’s eyes the whole time, but looking out in the same direction.
Aquila and Priscilla loving the church (19): Here is an insight into the strength and beauty of a Christ-centred marriage where a couple use their home as a place of ministry (See also Romans 16:5). As the two sides of a triangle draw nearer to each other the closer the get to the pinnacle; and as the spokes of a wheel come closer together the nearer they are to the hub, so, in our marriages (and all our relationships) the closer we get to Christ, the greater will be our proximity to one another. When Jesus is at the centre of a marriage He can turn the ‘water’ of every day married life into the ‘wine’ of something very special.
The church loving the church (20): Whatever form it takes, a genuine Christian greeting that conveys your love (and God’s love most of all) is a powerful thing. It carries great blessing. Let’s not allow our greetings to slip into mere clichéd formalities, but put our whole heart into each one. May our brothers and sisters in Christ know Jesus’ touch through ours!
Paul loving the church through his letters (21, 24): This, then, reminds us that Christian love is not slushy and soppy and sentimental. There is such a thing as ‘tough love’. You can’t read the Corinthian letters without feeling something of Paul’s great bursting heart towards this church. But because of that love he was prepared to say and do the difficult things. Real love does not shirk such hard issues. A godly senior pastor once prayed with me when I was going through a time of enormous pressure and strain. He said, ‘Lord, you know how we can fear to grasp the nettle for fear of getting stung.’ Paul got badly stung, but in uncompromising love he grabbed the nettles and sought to pull them out of the ground.
Finally, there is something sad and tragic said here about those who do not love the Lord (22). Here is a doctrinal ‘nettle’ some would rather not pick up, but it is before our eyes and has to be handled. The Bible teaches here, and in other places, that those who do not turn to Christ will be eternally separated from Him. C.S. Lewis said that in the final analysis there will only be two types of people in the world: those who say to God ‘Your will be done’, and those to whom God says, ‘Your will be done.’ If we do not want the Lord we will not have Him.