Pastor's Valentine's Day Message
Here it is, February already and time for retailers to turn our hearts to thoughts of Love! Well, Valentine's Day, anyhow. Candy-sellers and card companies and, I hope flower shops all prosper from folks trying to demonstrate and profess their love. It doesn't take much to get the thought going for many. It's likely that we have written and sung about love from our earliest history. Sure, maybe you've never thought about ancient Egyptian pharaohs singing about love, but I don't think it's at all far-fetched to think of love songs between Adam & Eve!
In recent history there was a song that said it was the only thing that there was just too little of. The Beatles said that love was all you need. In culture, love is seen as elusive & fickle & people are confused about it. To hear people talk, it's the best. No wait, it's the worst. Some songs lament how much more trustworthy dogs or pickup trucks are. In the words of a philosopher of the 20th century--Frank Sinatra-- "What is this thing called love? This funny thing called love? Just who can solve its mystery? Why should it make a fool of me?"
Never had faith in finding much wisdom in music (well, there IS Handel's Messiah), but another song says that people will know we are Christians by our love. Do we “do” love differently?
WHAT is love? A dictionary defines love as "an intense affection for another person based on familial or personal ties". The key in that definition is the phrase "based on." It implies that we love conditionally; that we love others because they fulfill something we require before we can or will love them. This is NOT the picture of love given in the Bible.
In the original Greek, the Bible uses 4 different words that are translated as “love” in English. The Greek words are: Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape, meaning characterized by romantic love, family love, brotherly love, and unconditional, sacrificial & pure love of God—respectively. Judging from the nature of Valentine's Day cards, it seems that people without the Bible get stuck in the Eros-type of love. Maybe occasionally the Storge or Philia-types. Rarely, do people dabble in the Agape-type of love with out the influence of Christ.
But it's only the Agape love that “is patient, ...kind...does not envy...does not boast,... is not proud...does not dishonor others,... is not self-seeking, ...is not easily angered, ...keeps no record of wrongs...does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Most of us hear that part of 1 Corinthians 13 in weddings, but it's a reality about every Christian's goal for everyone we deal with. Whether we think they deserve it or not. After all, that is what God has offered you and me. (Romans 5:8) And the only way we can love—really love another—is to love God first. (1 John 4: 19)
The other part of not letting a non-Christian culture define love is that the non-Christian idea of love also means that you let people do as they please no matter how harmful to themselves, you or even the very culture itself. NOT SO! Allowing destruction without opposition is not love of God. God is the Creator, not the destroyer. The destroyer would be Satan. The Enemy sworn to destroy us & the things of God, like peace & freedom.
In a huge understatement, we can see that since the Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), we can conclude that understanding how to love as God does will take a while! But we are told clearly that this is exactly what we are to do. So stay fastened to Christ, listen to the Holy Spirit and do your part. May Valentine's Day, and chocolate, and flowers help remind you to do your part! Pastor Geoff