I read the Epistle lesson Sunday from 1st Corinthians 13, Paul’s great exposition on love, 4 times. It is a great passage but each time I read it one section kept poking out in my mind and causing me to wonder. It was the kind of thing you feel when you write a word down that you have used forever and suddenly it doesn’t look right. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says in the translation that I read, “Love in not rude”.
The I went home and watched the news and saw a clip where one of the candidates in Iowa was in a tiff with a member of the audience and said “you are rude and I am not calling on you”. So what is the meaning of “rude” especially when the old translations read “love does not act unbecomingly, or unseemly”? You might say that you can’t define rude but you know it when you see it.
The original word used here is where we get our word “scheme”. Don’t think about “scheming” but about a schematic drawing or a template or directions. A scheme is a overlay of what something should look like. So Paul uses a word that basically means to act against that form or overlay or template.
What that candidate was saying is that “we have a template here. I stand up and talk and you listen. If you ask a question I might condescend to answer, but you sit in your chair in reverent awe at my presence. You will nod and smile knowingly and applaud and cheer when prompted. That is the template. That is the scheme, and the form and to go away from it, or deviate from it is bad form”. The person in the audience went against the scheme and was therefore “rude”.
Christians have a new scheme or template in Christ. The kind of love that Christ has for us is patient and kind, bearing all things, hoping all things, not counting wrongs or keeping score. That is the new template and schematic drawing of what we are to be because that is what Christ has been for us. We do not act in an unbecoming manner but we act as becomes those upon whom the “end of the age has dawned”.