Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

I have always been intrigued by the Jamie Owen Collins song “Charity” and the line “Jesus reduce me to love…”

The song is based on 1 Corinthians 13 – a famous passage often read at weddings.

However…why do we need reducing to love?  What do we add to LOVE on top of it being patient, kind, not envious, not boasting, not proud? Why do we make it more than not dishonouring others, not being self seeking or easily angered? Why can’t it just be these things and keep no records of wrong, rejoicing in truth, allow it to always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere?

Why does love seem to fail…when the Bible says it NEVER fails?

The things we add to LOVE are the things that this passage says LOVE does not do. We add envy, boasting, pride, putting others down, selfishness, anger. We keep record of wrongs done to us and the wrongs we do so that we feel inadequate. Therefore for many of us – LOVE fails.

There are many aspects I could write about but one I have been thinking about today is how we clothe LOVE with expectations.

We expect perfection from ourselves or we expect that we will fail. Both are unrealistic. This leads us to be unhappy, dissatisfied and feel unworthy of others love. If we feel unworthy we feel depressed, angry and aggrieved. Resentment builds up like a brick wall that we can hide behind. We feel hurt and our hearts are broken. However hard we might try to disguise it – we then reflect what we feel about LOVE onto others. We love them with the same conditions we love ourselves. We may end up having very low expectations of LOVE and our experiences do nothing to lift us out of this pit. This is further compounded by the fact that others are putting their own expectations on their love for us…we end up with all of us chasing unconditional love whilst displaying conditional love to everyone else.

You think not…? We might think we love our spouses or children unconditionally, but have you ever complained about them, withdrawn your attention or favour because you are mad with them and they don’t deserve it? Have you ever bought your child a treat because they had been particularly good?

Or maybe your heart has been broken so many time by people that should have loved you well, that all you can do is hide behind a 20 foot thick concrete wall that is protecting your fragile heart from being broken by anyone ever again?

Both of these conditions are a poor reflection of what God intended LOVE to be. He didn’t leave us guessing, he got his servant Paul to write it down for us and remind us how much we need this real LOVE. In fact, if you really read and study the whole Bible, God shows this kind of LOVE all the way through.

How do we want others to LOVE us?

My guess is without a list of things we must do to earn their LOVE…ie. UNCONDITIONALLY.

Don’t you think God knows that? Don’t you think he is able to offer you that kind of LOVE?

That is what the gospel is about. It is why, when you look at what Jesus did on the cross, we see an act of LOVE. To deal with our sin, to make a way to come back to God and enter into his perfect LOVE is what we all really long for…search into your broken, messy, hurting heart and you’ll know that is what you really want. And what is more…this LOVE of God is an inclusive LOVE.  No-one is excluded from being able to know this LOVE. 

Part two will look at loving yourself as God loves you. He is the one who can heal our brokenness and bring us into his perfect LOVE. He can “Reduce me to love” by taking away all the things we’ve added and teach us to love Him, ourselves and others as He loves us…and who wouldn’t want to experience the LOVE in 1 Corinthians 13?


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