Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day 2011

Friends, what is "love"? Today is the day of "love" and "lovers." But what exactly is the love that we celebrate? For most, it is the romantic movie that ends with the man finally coming to his senses, realizing that the only woman for him is the one that he has been fighting off or trying to avoid, proclaiming his love and then they join in the kiss of the century (again!). With a heart filled with longing, the woman turns to her husband and thinks (or says), "Why can't you be like him? Why can't you love me like that? Why can't we have that kind of love and relationship?"

For others, love is what happens when the flowers have been given, the candy eaten and the wine finished. Slipping off into the bedroom, the covers are turned down, the "sexy" lingerie is donned (only to be lost quickly) and the next 15 minutes to an hour is spent in love. In the throes of passion, love is proclaimed - a love that will change in the morning, or with the shift of emotions when the next time doesn't happen.

So what is love? Is it an action? Is it an emotion? Just what is it? I don't know if I can tell you exactly what it is - as far as a part of speech. But I can tell you what true love is - it is what God has for us. It is NOT what we have for God. The difference is God's love is agape - love with no boundaries or strings, while our love is very much set according to what we can receive from this God.

He loves us - not because we deserve it but because He wants to. We aren't worth loving. I don't care who you are or what you have done, you don't deserve God's love. You can profess your the depth of your love for God, you can sing praises till the cows come home and then sing some more, and your love is still colored by what you want from God. (You want Him to cure cancer, give world peace, take away poverty and at the same time, make it possible for the St. Louis Cardinals to waste millions of dollars signing a ballplayer that isn't worth that kind of money - no one is!) You love God because He gave His Son for you. You love God because He has forgiven your sins. You love God because He has given you a good job, lots of money, a good looking spouse that you can spend the night with, and a chance to go fishing when the ice finally goes away.

But you are dirty, rotten, no good, filthy, disgusting, over-whelming self-indulgent and increasingly stuffy. There is not an ounce of worth to MAKE God love you. Just the opposite is true. Nothing could MAKE God love you. He just does. Period. Plain, simple, deep, unending, complete and total love given by God, shown in all that He has done and continues to do for you. Look at the cross - LOVE! Look at the crown of thorns - LOVE! Look at the manger in the stable -LOVE! Where ever you look, whatever rock you turn over, there is God's love. Breath the air - LOVE! Eat the wonderful supper with your special sweetie tonight - LOVE (His not yours). LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

God so loved the world...that means you and me. There is love. The way we love today is beautiful by human standards, but it is tempered with what can be gotten because of that expression of love. The better the flowers, the meal and the gift, the more kisses you receive. You want those kisses, so you do your best to make it possible.

Wait, why not just give to your loved one with no expectation of receiving anything at all. Give, and don't become upset if they don't say, "Thank you." Give, and don't worry if no one else know about it. Give and don't expect to get lucky later on. That is the love of God. He gives, knowing we will not always appreciate it or say, "Thank you." He gives without expecting to hear our praises.

All of these thoughts flow from 2 places. The first is 1 John 4:10, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (ESV) His love guides our love. His love is the basis of our love. His love is all encompassing. And the other place is 1 Corinthians 13, the great chapter of love. That talks of true love, based in His love not ours. We can never live up to any of that love in vss. 4-7. His love is completely shown in those verse.

Happy Valentine's Day. Enjoy the day. Enjoy the romance. Know that there is nothing wrong with romance - for God intends it to be that way. He wants us to be romantic with each other. Know that is the kind of love that it is. Don't pretend to be an all-loving, self-sacrificing person because you gave flowers. Let it be an expression of you romantic love for your loved one. Enjoy the passion that it inspires. Rejoice, for God wants that passion inspired.

And know that the love you are showing is but a shadow of what true love is all about. Let the love of Christ, fill you to overflowing so that you can love that special person in the way God intends you to love them. Now get out there, share that candy, smell the flowers, eat the meal and enjoy all that might come next!

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