February Rector’s Study

Fr. Andrew, Rector Beloved, knowledge puffs up, but Love builds up (1 Cor 8:1). Apostle Paul’s message to the people of Corinth couldn’t have come at a perfect time at the annual meeting to remind us of what matters the most in Christian lives – Love. As the mission statement spells out, we are committed to following Jesus, who taught us about God’s abundant love through his own love that was humble and selfless. We all have received such powerful love; we are meant to share it K February 2024 SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS 2 bravely whenever possible, as Christ loved us. Love is the foundation of this faith community. Knowledge quenches our thirst for wisdom only for a little while. Knowledge grows our confidence, sometimes too much, fooling us into thinking we are in charge of life. Other times, it also makes us fearful or anxious, realizing how clueless we are. Knowledge itself is not a problem except when we use it to isolate ourselves from fulfilling our Christian duty of loving God and His people. The people of Corinth made this very mistake. They were a large mix of Romans, Greeks, and Jews. It was prosperous, diverse, modern, and pagan. The Apostle Paul helped many of them come to know Christ. Unfortunately, the problems among them continuously worsened after Paul left. What happened? People quarreled, sued against each other, and acted out selfishly! They used their knowledge to instill their self-righteousness so they could do no wrong as long as they stayed in their bubble. Such selfish knowledge even allowed them to judge and hate anybody who challenged their moral standard. Corinthians used their knowledge of God in vain for self-preservation rather than for gaining more courage to love others as Christ loved them. Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth to address the danger of zealous piety, which led them to narcissistic idolatry. Knowledge puffed up and made them arrogant. As much as they spoke about God’s love, they were only interested in gaining knowledge of God to condone their bigotry and not in sharing the responsibility to love back. Knowledge is essential. If we understand the importance of it, we must realize just how much harder we must work at loving more. I say, “Be swift to love and make haste to be kind,” at the end of service because I want us to continue building a community where anybody can experience God’s love through us when they come through the door – just as you shared it when I first met you ten years ago. The Love of God through Jesus Christ was fully present in you when you welcomed me into this faith community. You took a chance to extend your love, trusting Jesus, even though you did not know what this crazy Asian guy would be like. I hope you felt the same way about us when you first came. Love has sustained this faithful February 2024 SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS 3 community for nearly two centuries. It does not end here. It is far from over. I want all of us in St. Paul’s to continue thriving as a committed, faithful community where we never fall short of sharing God’s love. We gather in Jesus’ name, not for self-preservation, validation, or affirmation but to find more ways to bravely love the world selflessly as Jesus loved us. Paul is right about knowledge and love – knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Let us build and make Jesus proud.

With Love, Fr. Andrew