How appropriate for Valentine's Day to be celebrated during Lenten season.
One teaches us about real love.
One exposes illusions of love.
It seems to be oxymoronic because Lent is about denying ourselves and Valentine's day is about indulging.
Lent is about sacrifice and Valentine's day is about excess.
Valentine's day is about remembering the ones we love.
Lent is about remembering the One that first loved us.
The truth is-
We couldn't know real love without Christ.
We honor Him for the perfect gift of His love given to us on the cross. There is truly no greater love than this. John 15:13
The cross takes our shallow illusions of love and turns it on its head.
Today many of us enjoyed receiving great meals, gifts, candy, flowers, favorites and time with loved ones. Being loved on is a wonderful feeling. We must remember, however, that real love is not only demonstrated in giving and receiving gifts, but in 'dying.' You want to know who loves you?
Consider who will give their life for you.
Anyone can whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Everyone can find a box of candy or flowers in their price range but everyone will not be willing to give their life for you.
Who has sacrificed their desires, plans or life for you?
Better yet, how have you demonstrated sacrificial love for God? And For others?
If we are not 'dying' we are not loving.
God demonstrated His love for us by giving us His son. John 3:16
He bankrupted heaven so that our lives could be made richer.
If God could give us His best, shouldn't we be willing to do the same for others that we love?
Our challenge is not to love until it feels good. We have mastered that. Our challenge is to love until it hurts.
Often times illusions of love feel good, look good and seems good but "everything that glitters is not gold."
A humanistic thought professor said, "Thing's aren't often as they seem...skim milk can masquerade as cream."
The same is true about love images.
Chocolates will go bad. Flowers will wilt. Cards will fade but real love will last always.
We can become enticed by feelings and expressions when authentic love is really denying our feelings for the will of God and expressing it in submission to Him.
What is God asking you to give or to give up because you love Him?
Sometimes we have to move beyond our feelings to submit to the Father.
Jesus did it in the Garden of the Gethsemane. It was painful but He accepted God's will for His life and continued to the cross. He was driven by obedience and purpose as He proclaimed, "...Not my will but thy will be done." Luke 22:42
In this holy season, as we commit to various Lenten readings, personal fasting and prayer, may we also consider ways that we can show love that moves beyond the superficial images of it and is reflective in our conscious effort to "die daily." Die to one- sidedness, social blindness, prejudicies, narcissistic thoughts, selfish motives, temporary fixes, the need to be in control, sinful habits of bondage, fearful obsessions that stunt our growth and comfort zones that cripple our faith.
Die to life and love as you knew it and experience it anew through the lens of Christ. His love helps us to love with abandon and to love sacrificially.
Know how to recognize what love is not by recognizing what love truly is.
I Corinthians 13 is a great start.
It is kind. It is humble. It protects. It forgives. It forgets. It is truthful and trusting.
When you've found a person worth dying for, you've found a person worth living for.
That is real love.
Jesus thought we were worth dying for.
That is perfect love.
Know Him. Know love.
No Him. No love.
Let us embrace His abiding love and choose to live for Him.
Thank you for a love that is pure and persistent. Teach us to love others as you love us. Thank you for love personified in Christ. Remove things that obstruct our view of you and help us to love you with our whole heart. Shatter our shallow illusions of love and help us to know substantive love that is grounded in your Word and reflective in the way we love others. Give us the heart of Jesus. May our love always cause our hearts to bow in submission to your will.
In your name we pray. Amen.