by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Valentine's Day brings thoughts of chocolate, cards, cute little stuffed animals, candlelight dinners and so much more. The merchants love this day, filling greeting card racks with hearts and cupids the week after Christmas. We are flooded with advertisements, reminding us to honor our chosen Valentine appropriately (errr, expensively!).
Yet, Valentine's Day is also a great time to reflect on love, real love. Powerful love. Life changing love.
If we are honest, all of us are on a continuing journey to better understand love and to grow in our love for God and our love for those around us. None of us on this Earth today has the idea of love completely figured out. None of us is perfect in accepting love, and none of us lives out a flawless life of giving love.
The good news? We have a perfect example in Jesus. Having lived among us, he knows something about how difficult it can be to love. He knows the struggle of conflict, he knows what it means to be misunderstood, and he knows—better perhaps than any of us—the pain of rejection.
As we follow Jesus and look to emulate his love, he brings words of incredible hope in John 13:34, giving all of us a starting point for understanding the true nature of love.
Talking to the disciples, Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another."
Was this commandment actually "new?"
Yes. To the disciples in fact, relating love to living out faith in this world was actually revolutionary thinking. Here is why:
The disciples knew, and tried to follow, the Old Testament Law. Yet, while there were many commandments in this Law, there were no laws commands focused on loving others. Yes, there were many regulations on how to treat others, but no specific teachings on loving others.
God sent Jesus to introduce love in a new way. We see this in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, where the Lord takes many Old Testament laws and adds to them, "But I say to you . . . ." He was introducing a higher standard for our thinking and behavior based on a foundation of love.
Today, we still have this "new" foundation for our faith which weaves a tapestry throughout our lives: Love.
If every action we take is launched from love, the world changes. If the truth be known, the world around us is not quickly attracted to faith's perspective on social issues (such as life), behavior and relationships.
The world however, is always attracted to those who truly love others selflessly. Jesus knew this, showing us that if we love, we are more likely to move a culture toward God.
Valentine's Day can be fun and full of nice surprises. Yet there is a greater love that can be new every day.
So take heart. If our launching point for each day is love, we are on the right track. Jesus tells us so, and he changed the world.