" A new Commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35
In the mid 1990's I was greatly impressed on by the Holy Spirit to pray earnestly for the manifestation of the spiritual gifts. The Church that I had previously been affiliated with for 18 years placed no emphasis on praying for the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians, so this was new to me. I began to take prayer breaks throughout each day to ask God to fill me and my congregation with His promised gifts. Many times I could feel Godís presence as I prayed.
One day while working at the Church alone I had an experience that forever changed my life.
I got up from my desk to go pray when suddenly I was in vision. I had never had a vision from God before. I found myself traveling through a long tunnel and I could see light at the end. As I approached the end of the tunnel I could see a person crucified on a cross. I assumed that the person was Jesus, but as I moved closer I was surprised to see that it was me. Then it seemed as though I entered my body on the cross.
At this point I experienced the wonderful sensation of Godís perfect love. By comparison, all the love that I had ever felt before was very selfish -this love was pure. At first I believed that God was allowing me to feel His love but soon realized that His love was coming from the me that was on the cross. I realized that we must be willing to suffer for God and for others to truly experience the love of God.
While I was marveling in this perfect love I heard a voice say, -"This is how you must be - and this is what you must do." The Holy Spirit immediately quickened 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, into my mind. I had been earnestly pursuing the spiritual gifts but God was telling me that in order for them to work effectively in me I had to be willing to lay down my life for others and also allow God to cultivate His pure love in me.
By their very nature, the gifts are designed to serve the Body of Christ. Prophets speak the right-now Word of God, healers lay hands on the sick, those with the ministry of helps serve the physical needs of the Church, etc. Simply put, without love the gifts cannot be effectively used. The Apostle Paul teaches on the spiritual gifts in Chapters 12 and 14. But in Chapter 13, right in the middle so there is no understanding, he says that without love they are all useless. We must have love.