God is patient, God is kind…that’s Crazy Love

Written by on January 1, 2009 in Faith and Spiritual Life, Notes By The Way with 12 Comments

Do you know this famous passage from the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

I read the following quote from Crazy Love, by Francis Chan at Compassion in Politics:

Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love (For me, “Francis is patient…”) Do it for every phrase in the passage.

By the end, don’t you feel like a liar? If I meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.

I would like to offer a better suggestion: substitute “God” for “love” instead.

Why is this better? First, I think it’s more accurate. The Bible says that God is love, so putting “God” in there makes sense. Second, because it’s encouraging and inspiring rather than guilt inducing. People don’t change by making themselves feel extra bad. People change when they catch a vision for something better and go after it.

I love the title, Crazy Love (crazy by our standards), and maybe the book as a whole is a good one. But that question (”don’t you feel like a liar?”) really strikes me as wrong in a big way. It’s true that people lie and pretend a lot in religion. But isn’t guilt what drives us into pretending? In fact, you could see this as a case study in how pastors create (or amplify) a problem (setting the reader up to feel like a liar) and then offer a solution to make them feel better (and, honestly, a bit more dependent on the teacher and his book).

Love sets us free to be ourselves and to live without fear. Love alone transforms us in a way that lasts.

(God) is patient, (God) is kind. (God) does not envy, (God) does not boast, (God) is not proud. (God) is not rude, (God) is not self-seeking, (God) is not easily angered, (God) keeps no record of wrongs. (God) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (God) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (God) never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

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About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .

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  • Sue

    I see what you mean about being set up to feel like a liar but there are people who go in for “positive confession”. I suppose if they substitute their names in the verse, it’s a way of affirming themselves, or seeing the reality they are trying to achieve, or whatever. But I like the way putting in “God” focuses on Him.

  • I agree that people lie to themselves. Unfortunately, I’m no exception. I hope I’m getting more and more honest. I think I’m getting better at spotting my own lies anyway. I hope what I’m getting at is that the culture of guilt often present (and even cultivated) in religion leads to MORE not less lying and pretending. I think this is true even (or especially) when there’s pressure to expose ourselves. The real cure to living a lie or a life of pretense is authentic love which sets us free to be ourselves.

  • Nas

    Hi Andrew,

    I found your photo’s of Japan while trying to make a video for an old band I was in. My wife and I went to Japan last year and fell in love with it. I love the people, the culture, the art, and the language (though my self-imposed lessons haven’t gone as well as I’d like…)

    Also, I love Jesus, who has saved me for Himself, and am ever grateful that he called me to pursue Him and have faith in Him even while I am yet a fallen hypocrite. All this to say I agree with you. God does not call us to guilt, he calls us to recognize His Godhood, and rejoice in it, and pursue His glory, as opposed to our own. We get so caught up in the need to assure ourselves that we’re “doing it right”, that we forget that only one has ever “done it right”, and He is good and loving and worth pursuing, past and above any agenda of our own. We’re in fact made for it.

    Yeah, I kinda went on and on there. Sorry, but I’m stoked right now. Peace.

  • Yes, feel free to go on.

  • Kevin

    I agree on some but guilt is also a necessity to see how much love is valued and experienced.

    When I am made to feel guilty of my character, nature and lifestyle, it is then that I see the need for love, mercy and grace. Without guilt why would anyone see for pardon or forgivenness which is necessary to enter into the realm and God (For God is Love). The God of love wants me to see my guilt but also see his mercy and love that purges and pardons that guilt. It is then that I see my guilt and have it pardoned that this passage in the bible will be made manifest and expressed more abundantly in my life….WHY???????????? Becuase I know what it is like to have that love expressed to me in TRUTH….not in falsehood or hypocritically……but real and honestly.

    To put my name in there reveal a true hidden caracter that is hurt and in need of a loving God and when he pardons me then I will experience a love like no other it is without hessitation that I will conform and shine forth this love in this passage in truth, realy and honest….

  • Kevin,
    I like what your saying. We need to see the truth, including what’s true about ourselves. We do deceive ourselves, including countless people who claim to know and walk with God. What concerns me is the idea that being convicted or feeling guilty alone will lead to change. I know many people live this way in practice, and it doesn’t work. Real change comes from grace, not fear, so God’s Truth and Love (as opposed to self imposed guilt and positive thinking) must converge in a person.

  • Loulou

    God is not patient, he gives you less than 70 years to make up your mind (for him 70 years is a flash in the pan) and if you cant do that he roasts you in hell for eternity.

    He is not kind, frequently murdering entire villages and sentencing people to death for minor crimes.
    God is envious, as he wants EVERYONE to worship him and no one else. He is the most jealous fucker on Earth as, if you dont ackowledge him as Lord of everything, he roasts you in hell.

    God is very proud, commanding respect and eternal praise for all his glory and good deeds.

    God is selfish, in the sense that he wants everyone to sacrifice and give to him

    In short, God hates everyone. Praise me as God.

  • If that is your version of God, then you have a good point. I don’t know if this is just a one off comment, but if you’re interested in discussing this more just post again. Thanks.

  • Cory

    I did a search for God is Love, God is patient because about a year ago I did some soul searching to find out what my understanding of God was. I knew that God is Love so why couldn’t I replace the word Love in 1 Corinthians 13 with God. And this turns out to be the way I always thought God would be. I grew up in a church that taught me God was vengeful and hated sinners. That simply isn’t true. And to respond to LouLou. God doesn’t sentence men to death for minor crimes. Man does.

  • I got the idea for this post (okay, I stole it) from a book. At the time, I only knew the book’s premise. I still haven’t read it, but I listened to a great interview with the author. The book is called “The Misunderstood God,” and based on your comment I want to recommend it. I’m sure I’ll read it myself before long (I’m currently stuck between buying more paper books or getting a digital reader…). Here’s a link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Misunderstood-God-Religion-Tells-About/dp/1935170058/

  • Pingback: Keeps No Record of Wrongs()

  • ron351ne

    LouLou,
    God is patient and God is kind! The door that Adam and Eve chose to open was the door to good
    and evil! God told them that they could eat from any tree but one and told them the consequences
    if they did! He didn’t want them to make that choice and warned them to protect them from what the
    world would become! He didn’t take that tree away; he allowed them to make that choice for them-
    selves! They could have chosen from the tree of life and lived forever! I use to think about why God
    didn’t put someone in the garden that would have not made that choice, until one day I realized that
    if there had been just one person throughout life (me included) that would have done differently,
    he would have put that person there instead! I came to the conclusion that none of us would have
    done any different! So because of one man’s disobedience (Adams) all have become unrighteous
    and separated from him but he made away for us to be connected back to him by sending himself
    in the flesh and dying on the cross so through one man’s obedience (Christ’s, God in the flesh) all
    have become righteous and are reconciled back to him once they accept him as their Savior and
    believe that he died (sacrificed himself) for all their sin, past, present and future. Making him the
    one and only mediator between God and man! So what we are up against is a fallen world, that
    originated because a choice was made by man who didn’t choose to listen! Now is not the time to
    push away God but a time more than ever to seek him and to trust him to be the loving, kind and
    righteous God who has made another way for us and who is always watching over us! It’s not who
    we are or about whom we are in him! It’s about who he is and what he wants to do in us and through
    us! Whether we believe or accept this, his word says that in the end, “Every knee will bow and every
    mouth will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”! He loves you LouLou and he has made a better way!
    I Hope all is well with you and may ask God to come and live in you to fulfill his alternate purpose
    in your life! Ask him to reveal himself to you, he will!

    If he is the one and only true God like he says that he is, wouldn’t that make him worthy to be praised?

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