A Day Celebrating Love

February 11, 2013

    They don’t know what they’re talking about.
    If you could quantify the use of the word love in advertising this week, your meter would red-line by Thursday. Valentine’s Day is the next retail surge, picking up the pace at the cash register after the post-Christmas sales tsunami.
    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 its digital spawn 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, accompanied by a Hallmark card. If you don’t know love, you cannot convey it.
    In the American culture, circa 2013, lust lingers on the fringe of every relationship, masquerading as love. Lust approaches other people with plans to take; love redefines a relationship, as it comes only to give. Lust takes; love gives. Lust leaves the other person diminished; love leaves the recipient benefited. The +/- measure is the emotional metric that registers… the morning after.
    Many American women find a benchmark for love in romance novels, the most popular genre in modern literature. Christians have access to a better bestseller when considering what love really means. As the week flows from State of the Union to State of the Heart, what’s new on the love front?
    There is nothing new; there is, however, a timeless insight from a source whose motives are always selfless. We most often sit at Paul’s feet to hear about love, from the 13 verses in 1 Corinthians 13. That’s great insight… but in the Upper Room – recorded in John 13-16 – Jesus addressed love 24 times. What did he have to say?
    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…” (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 empty of evidence 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 obedient action.
Bob Shank






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