So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Since I was a young student, these words of Paul to the Corinthians have reminded me of the most important achievement in life: love. As God loves us and gave us his only Son, we are taught that love is the thing that matters. If love weren’t the most important quality in life, then why are there so many words written about love?
One of my favorite songs about the power and endurance of love comes from Baz Luhrmann’s musical, “Moulin Rouge” (2001), starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, excerpted here:
Ewan: Don’t leave me this way/I can’t survive without your sweet love
Oh baby don’t leave me this way
Nicole: You think that people would have enough of silly love songs
Ewan: I look around me and I see it isn’t so, oh no
Nicole: Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs
Ewan: Well what’s wrong with that/I’d like to know/Cause here I go again
Ewan: Love lifts us up where we belong/Where the eagles fly/On a mountain high
(Songwriters: Buffy Sainte-Marie / Jack Nitzsche / Will Jennings; Elephant Love Medley lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc)
These seemingly cheesy lyrics, with lines borrowed from multiple 20th Century love songs, resonate with me. When we try, as Nicole Kidman’s character Satine does, to resist love shouted from the rooftop – or as is bellowed to us in biblical passage after biblical passage – we will fail. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 7-8) Our love for God and our neighbors brings us closer to God.