A few days ago we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a day you love it or hate it. People seem to think that if they have a significant other it’s a day to celebrate while others who have no one seem to dread this day. If you are a Christian and loved by God you have one of the greatest loves of all. Nothing or no one compares to the love God has for you. I think we should think about Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate the love God has for us and the love we have for him. What would that look like? What would our speech, actions and our thoughts be like if we took one day and set it aside to show God our love for him?
There are numerous scriptures on loving others as ourselves. God has taught us we are to love our enemies as well as our family and friends. Here are just a couple of verses on love.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
— John 15:12-
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… Matthew 5:44
There are many more; you know them. So, if we were to love as God wants us to and if we were to celebrate love onValentine’s Day honoring God then I think I have a few suggestions that can help get you on your journey.
First, I am a people lover. I love people. I love meeting people. I love meeting people of all ages, race, all religions; in my book, there are no divisions. In my line of volunteering, I come across people who are down on their luck. Some have just come out of jail or been in prison for several months or years. Some are homeless, some have lost jobs, and some just try to take advantage of the system. One of the things I do is to sit and talk with them for just a bit. I greet them by name and ask how their day is going. I try to connect with them in some way. I listen for something that I can talk with them about. I try to understand where they are coming from. Stop and think about the people you admire the most. When you see them don’t they often mention something about yourself or ask about how your day is going? How often do they remember you telling them about a situation and they begin asking about that? I’ve had clients (I’ve done this with friends and people I meet also) who have told me about a family member who is sick, or someone in their family who’s lost a job or some kind of situation and when I see them again I try to recall what they’ve told me and ask about that particular situation. It makes them know you care and you love them.
Second, let’s begin to see people as people who were created by the same God that created you. There is no one on this side of Heaven God did not create or make happen. We ALL are children of God; we just may be separated from him or our relationship with him might be dysfunctional, but we still are children of God. We can take those same dysfunctional relationships we have and still remain in love with them. We work to reconcile them to God and we begin to mend relationships. We put the past in the past, we drop the ball on remembering those hurts and those pains and we reach out in love. What would it mean to someone who is dysfunctional if we reached out in love through our words and actions? How would they respond? Would they respond?
What if we began putting our differences aside and we begin to look for that common bond in our lives? It may be children or grandchildren, it may be where our spouses work or the line of work they do, it could mean simply going to the same grocery store and seeing each other at the store. I’ve recently heard a story of a friend who lost her daughter at age 21 in a car accident. I didn’t know this about her until she shared it. The common bond we have is the fact we’ve both lost children; different ages and different circumstances, but the fact remains we were moms who carried our children for nine months and lost them way too early. As women come in to share about being sexually abused I understand and I talk with them about that. When women or men come in and share about dementia with their spouses I can relate. My mom had the dreaded A disease; you know the one. When we begin to find a common bond with one another the love grows like a wild weed and it can’t be pulled or stopped from growing strong.
Finally, if we are challenged by someone why not take them to lunch or dinner and have a conversation with them. If their religion or their beliefs are different why not sit down and have an honest conversation with them. Learning to understand what the differences make it easier to accept one another. We may agree to disagree, but we’ve reached out in love and offered friendship and understanding. No matter what the topic or the circumstance is we can find mutuality in food. Having a good conversation over food always help with learning about each other. Digging deep into a person’s soul can lead to love and understanding.
Yes, there are some we will never find a common bond with. There is just nothing in their lives that we can relate to, but we are still called to love. There is a song I sing in one of my Christians organizations we sing and I take it to heart. The words go something like
I love you with the love of the Lord
Yes I love you with the love of the Lord
I can see in you the glory of my King and
I love you with the love of the Lord.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”
— 1 John 4:7
We may not be able to love one another from a human standpoint, but we can love each other if we see God in them and see them through God’s eyes. He doesn’t call us to have a relationship with them; but, he does call us to forgive them and love them.
Let’s begin a new journey with Valentine’s Day and let’s make this a day we celebrate God’s love for us. Won’t you join me?
Dear God: I know you’ve put a deep desire in me to love people. Sometimes it’s challenging and I often fail. Help me on this journey as I try to find a common bond with everyone I meet. Help me to reach out to them and even if they are dysfunctional or we have different beliefs or we find no common bond to see them as children of God and to love them. Next year as Valentine’s Day rolls around I want to be reminded of the greatest love in all my life and that’s the love you have for me. May I rejoice and celebrate that love. Amen