Love! Easy for you to say
There are various legends surrounding the origin of Valentine’s Day. What we can definitively say is that a priest named Valentine was canonized to become a Saint in the Catholic Church for his heroic deeds allegedly in defiance of Emperor Claudius’ prohibition against marriage for young soldiers during the 3rd Century AD. He secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young lovers and thus became associated with the idea of love. His acts provided an opportunity for the Church to establish a Christian Feast Day in opposition to a pagan fertility feast that occurred in mid-February each year.
We now celebrate the day as a time to express romantic and filial love and affection to one another, particularly to those in intimate love relationships, married couples, engaged and dating couples as well as close family, moms, dads and children, and so forth. The day is set aside for anyone who wishes to celebrate their loving relationship with another person.
Though the day is a Christian Holiday, mainline churches do not make much of it in terms of their liturgy, but it does provide an opportunity to focus on the love as a fundamental theme of the Christian Church.
It would take volumes to even begin to exhaustively explore the subject. But there is much that we can say even in a brief devotional as this to remind us of how important Love is to our walk of faith as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. First, it is good to be reminded of how much we are loved right now, right in the midst of whatever machination of life we may be experiencing.
God’s love for us is eternal and it will never end, it will never fail to live up its fullest expression of His goodness and blessing toward His people. Love is God and God is Love. As the children of God we are the offspring of Love. We are the children of Love carrying within in us the same DNA that marks us as His seed. We are therefore, by our reborn nature, most fulfilled and most effective in living in the world when we act prompted by Love.
A fundamental express of that love is this.
“Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10
Those who love as God loves do not seek violence, anarchy and destruction, do not give themselves over to lasciviousness, vulgar degrading speech, or lewd, vile behavior unbecoming to the Love of God. Neither do those who love sit in self-inflated judgment of those who oppose them, or condescendingly vilify them because of the ignorance of the things of God or rejection of His Love. Rather they look upon them with God’s heart of Love.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…” Matthew 5:44
Ok. We hear that often, we read it, we get it preached at us but very few really do it. Why? What hinders us in the critical moment from earnestly doing that from the heart?
Fundamentally it’s sin — ours and the sin of those who oppose us. Our sin hinders us because it hinders the flow of God’s love through us. Sin turns us away from God. Not from His love for us, but from our love for Him. Because, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
The Scriptures also summons us to Love God with all our heart soul mind and strength.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
And so we should, and I imagine we would all agree we want to do that, but why are we so marginally committed to it? Why are our hearts and loyalties so divided?
Then, finally, Jesus gives us a new commandment— one that is particularly addressed to those who are in the household of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
Now if we thought the others were hard to fully incorporate into our lives this last one eclipses them with one little phrase, “as I have loved you.”
Yes, you heard Him. He commands us to love the people of God with the same sacrificial attitude of laying aside our lives, our comfort, our pleasures, our plans, our resources and our agendas to fulfill His purpose through us to His people. And this is no one sided deal. He has prompted others to do the same on our behalf.
Without love the universe would spin off into oblivion, because the absence of Love is the absence of God. Without God there is no Love; Without Love there is no life. Jesus is life, the Way the Truth and the Life. Without Him we are lost and dead in our sins, dead in our transgression and iniquities, in darkness without hope, destined for death, hell and the grave eternally separated from God.
But we can celebrate this Valentine’s Day in the sure and certain hope that we are the sons and daughters of Love, the children of light, the people of God who are loved eternally, loved fulfilling-ly, loved personally. And because we are loved we can love others with that same love that has been so freely given to us. There is no limit to God’s Love and there is no possibility of exhausting its power.
Today as we express our love to those near and dear to us, let us remember to love each day to express our love to God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of our Blessed Holy Spirit who Loves us and gave Himself for us.