Lust. It’s on the menu for this week… but most don’t know what they’re talking about.
For the last few months, lust – past and present – has been in the headlines. Out of control people with power over others – mostly men, just a few women – have been exposed for their histories of sexual abuse and exploitation. Lust doesn’t live in the same universe with love.
Love is in the air; Valentine’s Day is an apolitical, weather-insensitive fact of life. Radical swings in the stock market may affect car sales and home buying, but the annual date night scheduled for Wednesday will not be affected by any market correction.
Flowers. Chocolates. Stuffed animals. Restaurants. Spas. Any gift or service that might solve the “what am I going to get her?” dilemma is ripe for retail exploitation. And, if the holiday is, for you, a table-for-one moment, E-Harmony and Farmers Only are standing in the wings to connect you to your ideal match, so that – if successful – you can join the gift-buying frenzy next year.
They don’t know what they’re talking about. It isn’t about a cheap – and, frivolous – throw-away token, accompanied by a Hallmark card. If you don’t know love, you cannot convey it.
In modern culture, circa 2018, lust lingers on the fringe of many relationships, often posing as love. Lust approaches other people with plans to take; love redefines a relationship, as it comes only to give. Lust leaves the other person diminished; love leaves the recipient benefited. The +/- measure is the emotional metric that registers… the morning after.
Our culture is “lookin’ for love, in all the wrong places.” Some men grew up with a secret stash of Playboy under their bed; some women find fantasy – though not fulfillment – in Harlequin paperbacks or The Bachelor tv program. Date nights in the new era could end up in a dark theater, going love-blind with Fifty Shades of Grey. Porn sights are top-draws on the internet; the futile alternatives are emotionally empty.
This is nothing new; the genuine article is portrayed in timeless insight from the Source whose motives are always selfless. Most Christians go to 1 Corinthians 13 to explore love. That’s great… but in the Upper Room – the night before he became the ultimate Valentine gift – Jesus addressed love 24 times. Listen to some of his highlights (from John 13-16):
Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (13:1)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (13:34-35)
“If you love me, you will obey what I command… Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (14:15, 21)
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (14:23-24)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (15:9-10)
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (15:11-13)
Harlequin – the trashy paperback provider of fantasy lust for love-starved women – has nothing on the Author of Love. The modern romance novel portrays relationships very differently than the God who came to demonstrate the Real Deal. “God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16) is, perhaps, the most remembered line of the New Testament.
Oh, by the way: did you notice the overwhelming – and, obvious – coaching offered by Jesus about the if/then status of real love? “If you love me, you will obey…” Claims of love for God are untested until validated by volition: “prove your love by doing what I’ve told you to do.”
With Jesus, every day is Valentine’s Day… and all He wants is action.