Num 1-2; 1 Cor 12-13; Psalm 92-93
As we read the book of Numbers which, it is immediately apparent, is well named. It may well seem once more that as in Leviticus we enter into a strange world. With the LORD’s careful instructions for how the Israelites whould arrange the camp. On the one hand we need to remember the teaching of the letter to the Hebrews, that the earthly sanctuary, the Tabernacle or Temple (placed at the heart of the people) is a foreshadowing of things eternal. Put another way, the strangeness is in a sense pointing us to the strangeness of heaven.
So it would be easy therefore to read the familar words of 1 Corinthians 13 and consider we were on much easier ground, as if we knew what Love was. Except we don’t, neither do the Corinthians. In seeking to penetrate the mystery of Love, Paul concedes he sees as only in a mirror and an imperfect one at that.
As we read of the attributes of Love – it is instructive to place our own name in the text – to read ourselves into it, as we always should. And in so doing we realise that we are as much strangers to Love as we are to the world of the book of Numbers. All too readily we assume we know what love is. All too readily we assume that by and large we are loving. We have not the honesty, or perhaps better the self knowledge to say with George Herbert ‘Ah! I the wicked, the ungrateful one? I cannot look on Thee [Love]’
The great English Saint, John Stott, made it his practise to meditate every day upon one of the fruits of the Spirit. We might do well to adopt that attitude and meditate daily upon the attributes of Love, in the presence of the one who is Love made flesh. That by the grace and strengthening of the Holy Spirit, Love might become less of a stranger to us.
Perhaps we speak too easily of our ‘relationship with Jesus’ – our careful meditation upon his character revealed here, carried out in his presence – shows us how far we have to go to grow into the fulness of him who fills everything in everyway