Bible passage: 1 Corinthians 13 v 1-8a
Living as a community of love
The themes to be explored in this study are the way that living as a community of love involves sacrifice and a dying to self. Love is a concept which all of us are familiar with and happy to use, but which also has so a vast variety of meanings and applications that it can sometimes seem a bland or vacuous concept. The love of God is explored throughout the Bible in a number of ways, and exploring these themes may help tie down what is unique and important about what Christians have to say on the subject.
Before reading the Bible passage(s) your group may find it helpful to look at this painting by Agnolo Bronzino, called The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Elizabeth, which dates from 1540.
Notes on the painting
Here are four passages in addition to the main one above. You could have a one-off study on a single passage, a series using all five passages, or break up a larger group into small subgroups to look at one passage each and then come back to share common themes. Click on the texts to find the suggested questions.
- What reasons can you give for why this passage is so familiar to so many people?
- The Psalm names the presence of God with us in both times of contentedness and times of trouble. Which of these experiences has brought you especially close to God?
- How can we resist the urge to fix problems at the expense of faithful presence with those in the ‘darkest valley’?
- There are resonances of Jesus’ final few days with his disciples in verse 5. Why might these become especially important with those who are near to death?
- Verses 9-10 tell of how God’s love is revealed to God’s creation. Can that revelation of love be imitated, or is the way we reveal God’s love different?
- Reading verse 18, what do you think the relationship between love and discipline is?
- The final couple of verses seem to imply that loving our brothers and sisters comes as a result of seeing God’s love within them first. Where or when do you find it most difficult to see love? What can blind love from sight?
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