Happy Valentine's Day! If you go to a store today you will see a frenzy of people buying cards, flowers and candy for the people in their lives. Valentine's Day is the third biggest day in the floral industry, following Christmas and Mother's Day. Valentine's Day is the second largest greeting card holiday after Christmas. Valentine's Day is the fourth largest candy day following Halloween, Easter and Christmas. So, Valentine's Day and the love connected to it is BIG business. The holiday has its roots in the early history of the Church. According to Wikipedia,
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
Most of the stories and possible myths surrounding this holiday connect it to the martyrdom of Christians serving others. So, the idea of Christian love and sacrifice seems to be at the heart of the holiday's origins long before people were sending flowers, candy and cards.
And while many may spend a lot of time and money on Valentine's Day, the really important thing about the holiday is that is the only holiday on the calendar that focuses on love. If we stop and think about it, love is the one thing people are hardwired to seek, want and desire, even if we don't fully understand it or have a clear definition of it. So, while there is a lot of talk about love, exactly what the word really means and how to get it, has become illusive. There are multitudes of people this Valentine's Day that won't be getting flowers, candy, cards or any real love from anyone. What about them? Is there real love for the loveless or those that are single, divorced, widowed or alone? What is love really about and how do you know if you have found it?
One of the great tragedies today is that real love has been hijacked by our society and become something different for just about everyone. Everyone has their own idea of "love" and often they have little to do with one another. You might say that "love" is in the mind of the "lover." Culture uses the word "love" all the time in a very common way and it is part of public discourse. Thankfully, because of the influence of the Church, some people have realized that love has a meaning beyond culture and is something connected to God. The Bible tells us in I John 4:8 something wonderful and glorious,
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This amazing verse and statement tells us that God's own Being and Person defines the meaning of love for the world. As a result, IF God is not a part of our love, then it is not love. Without the Lord, love becomes something else entirely. People today talk about love all the time, but there is a lot less talk about the Lord. We all want love on some level, but we can't seem to connect it the Lord to have it defined and experienced in a meaningful way.
In his classic work, Mere Christianity, Christian author C.S. Lewis commented on this confusion between the Lord and our understanding of love when he said,
...what people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean 'Love is God.' They really mean that our feelings of love...are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement 'God is love.' They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.
You see without God's love, there wouldn't be a world. Nothing would exist without His love. Love was the motive that created the Universe and all of us. That same love was the motive that sent Jesus to the Cross. Love drives everything in the world and forever from the Creation to our Redemption. When the Lord Jesus told the world that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son" in John 3:16, we are hearing the confirming Word that love is behind everything the Lord does for us. No one can understand anything about life without understanding God's love as being a reflection of the Lord Himself and His purposes for the world.
Now the problem we are having this Valentine's Day, is that the world and our culture wants to define love without God, without the Cross and without meaningful sacrifice. People are using the idea of love as something they define in ways that often manipulates others. As an example, if people don't do something for someone else, those people may not really "love" others. If a woman won't have sex with a man she is dating, she might be challenged by him about her real "love" for him. In cases like that, love can be terribly manipulated and turned into lust. You see the same word "love" being used to manipulate people in the political sphere as well when they want something. If you try to deport illegal aliens, who have broken laws or committed crimes, people cry out, "Where's the love?" When Christians raise Biblical standards of concern about supporting gay marriage they are told they don't really love people. So, in way, society has often redefined love for self-seeking purposes that leave the Lord behind and become entirely political or even immoral.
In the clearest definition of love ever given, the Bible continues to define its view of real love as being connected the Lord Jesus Christ and the Cross in I John 4:10 where we hear,
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This definition of love should and must be central to our understanding of love in the Church, in Christian marriage and in all of our relationships in life. If we move away from a Biblical view of love, that removes sacrifice and replaces it with secular lust or political and moral agendas, we have destroyed the idea and meaning of real love altogether. Sadly, this is what we are seeing everywhere today. A plague of counterfeit, self-seeking lust is destroying our churches and society. If there was ever a time to let the real love of God and His Gospel of true love shine forth it is NOW. The truth that God is love though the Cross can redeem and heal the world; the counterfeit of twisting that love into lust and calling it "god" can destroy it.
On this Valentine's Day, it should be our hope and prayer that every person on earth finds the love we were created and designed for in life. That love is ONLY found in the Lord Jesus Christ alone and His love on that Cross. May everyone reading this article, regardless of marital status, flowers or no flowers, candy or no candy, cards or no cards run into the arms of our loving Lord today and find the love we are all looking for and designed to experience.