I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.
Here are the key verses and summary for the story of 1 Corinthians (‘Life in the city’), to be broadcast this Sunday 20th Feb from around 8.20 am:
Verses: 1 Cor 13.1–4
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends
First century Corinth was the place to be! About the same size as present-day Nottingham, there was money to be made, work to be done, fun to be had! It had rows of bars and pubs, and was a place you could make a name for yourself. But like any city, it could also be frightening, dangerous, lonely—an easy place to get lost or to be swept along with what everyone else was doing. This presented real challenges to the first Christians living in the city.
Paul wrote this letter to encourage them and he tackles these issues head on. Don’t impress people with your fancy words, he says—say something worthwhile. If Jesus has made a difference to your life, then live differently. Sex isn’t just something you do with your body, it affects all of who you are. How much you love others counts more than how talented you are. So this ‘hymn to love’ that you just heard read, so popular at weddings, is the centrepiece, not just of marriage, but of life together in the city.
Cities are places you can get a quick thrill and make a fast buck. Or, says Paul you can learn to love and in this way change the world.