One of the biggest battles that we all face (if we are honest with ourselves) is that we are incurably selfish, self-absorbed, and idolatrous at the very core of our hearts. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he addresses this core reality that leads to all the problems or symptoms affecting the church due to this foundational problem – a lack of love for God and for one another. Phil Ryken has written a very convicting, and yet practically helpful book that exegetes from the context of 1 Corinthians 13 (Biblical Exegesis) but also walks you through the Gospels (giving a Biblical theology of love) and demonstrates how Jesus exemplifies the genuine love that is being described in Corinthians.
The reason that this book and applying this book and the Bible is so challenging is captured well by Ryken mid-way through the book where he writes:
“Unfortunately, many of our attitudes and actions are exactly the opposite of what they ought to be, and as a result, our hearts are constricted. This is one of the reasons why 1 Corinthians 13 is such a challenge for us. All of the things it tells us that love does are almost impossible for us to do, whereas all of the things it tells us that love never does are things we do all the time. This is because we love ourselves more than we love other people or even God.”
Ryken brilliantly and helpfully shows how Jesus does what we can’t do – love perfectly like Him. He shows how each aspect of love in 1 Corinthians 13 (e.g., patience, kindness, not envious, etc.,) is modeled from the Gospels in the life, death, resurrection, and future coming of Christ and how we can be receivers and reciprocators of this kind of love. Though the book is very convicting, it is also very encouraging because it demonstrates that in the gospel – even when we fail to love like Him – he never fails to love us in the deep ways described in 1 Corinthians 13.
I highly recommend this book in order to come to a deeper understanding of godly love, Christ’s love for us, and how to grow more in your love for God and others. Ryken has given us a Biblical Theology of love manifested in Christ, and reiterated in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth – something we desperately need to apply in today’s church as well. One of the great features of the book is that it contains a very thorough study guide in the back of the book for discipleship or small group discussion.
*I received a free copy of this book by Crossway Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.