Paul does not describe love to us in the role of performing great, wonderful, and astounding deeds; he prefers to show us how the inner heart of love looks when it is placed among sinful men and weak and needy brethren. He does not picture love in ideal surroundings of friendship and affection where each individual embraces and kisses the other but in the hard surroundings of a bad world and a faulty church where distressing influences bring out the positive power and value of love."
(Lenski, R.C.H. (1961). The interpretation of I and II Corinthians. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, p. 554-555).
This commentary is in relation to 1 Corinthians 13:4. To begin by saying "love suffers long" (KJV) leads to the implications made by Lenski above. If, as he says, love were in ideal surroundings, it would not suffer. However, it does suffer because of the difficult surroundings love finds itself in. So love has to be patient, love has to resist being unkind, boastful or rude. The environment would have the tendency to push it in that direction, however, it must resist. These resistances to reaction in and to a hostile environment are the successes of love. We face these challenges to love in the "sins, evils, and trials of a fallen world" as well as a "bad world and a faulty church."
Obviously the church is not perfect and will never be until redeemed by Christ himself as his bride. But we expect more from it. Perhaps we expect faulty love, but we still expect love nonetheless. But faulty love can be improved upon if we desire to improve upon it. When aspects of our faulty love are pointed out to us, one would hope our response would be more along the lines of "Thank you and I will try to respond better" than a response of "Whatever?" Sometimes the faulty love we evidence is most clearly demonstrated in our response to devalued people who have always experienced faulty relationships, faulty caring and faulty love expressed toward them as a matter of course. It is no wonder they often will not trust us when we try to be more loving toward them.
I see the lack of love in myself toward others. Anger will sometimes trump love. Comfort will sometimes trump love. Impatience will sometimes trump love. It isn't that I have refused to do something spectacular from a love perspective. No, it is more that I have refused to love more mundanely through phone calls, spending of time, being patient. My relationships with people take place in a "bad world and a faulty church." Will I contribute to continuing the bad world? Will I be the evidence that the love of the church is faulty? It seems to start with me.