N. T. Wright comments, “So often at weddings, [1 Corinthians 13] has not often been heard as what it is, namely, a poem about the now/not yet tension of Christian living, and the way in which love, agape, is not so much a virtue to be worked at, though it is surely that as well, as the ultimate bridge, in terms of human character, from present Christian living into the future kingdom” (Resurrection in the New Testament, 296).
This comes in the middle of a long discourse on how 1 Corinthians is Paul’s attempt to help the Church in Corinth embrace a more Christian eschatology, that is, a view of the end and how it matters in terms how Christians live today. Paul was concerned that they were being influenced by other worldviews in which they were beginning to think that they had arrived at some kind of final state of perfection or glory. This poem on love is a way of broadening their imagination to see how on the one hand life in this age flows continuously with life in the next age through the pattern of love that has been revealed/demonstrated in Jesus. And of course Wright does a good job of showing that Paul was well aware that there was still a distinction between the two ages, but that’s not what I want to talk about right. I am challenged to think about those relationships in my life where people with whom I am in contact with don’t hear the music from the next age spilling into this one. They don’t have ears to hear. I am challenged to be carefully gracious in loving them, as we are not operating on the same ultimate, unquestionable assumptions. But love. Love is a music that reaches across assumptional boundaries with a beautiful harmony and a fresh and fascinating aroma.