Rethink Valentine’s Day
Let’s not deny the commercialism of Valentine’s Day. Let’s not let this mid-February holiday pass by either, not without appropriating it because it is never wrong to say, “I love you.”
It is never wrong to be romantic, either.
Take this further. It’s never the wrong day to share a story of how God loves you, or how God loves the person you are talking with—or experiencing—in the moment.
Maybe we all need to rethink how big Valentine’s Day can be.
I mention romanticism. If the fourteenth is only a day for your sweetheart, then we are all falling short of an incredible opportunity to love BIG. How big?
Think beyond a Hallmark holiday. As we love, consider what Jesus says about love. Specifically, who we are called to love, and this includes our neighbors and our enemies.
“Egad!” Someone is thinking. “Maybe love the neighbor, but love the enemy? There ARE big, bad wolves out there.”
Valentine’s Day falls between two sermons this year, February 10th and February 17th. In our month-long TIME TO LOVE series, I talked about loving our neighbor last Sunday. This was no rosy, aren’t-we-wonderful because every neighbor is rosy and wonderful. Ut-uh. I talked about loving our neighbor when it is hard, and when we flat-out don’t want to love those we dislike. And this Sunday? Loving the enemy? WHAT? Why don’t we just give away our homes and toss all our cash into the air?
When Jesus says we are to love our enemies, He creates a new standard for relationships. He proclaims to those listening to His Sermon on the Mount what they knew, which is this: they are to love their neighbor because loving their neighbor is a law of God (Leviticus 19:18).
Jesus replaces this idea with an even higher standard. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Jesus explains to those listening that they should uphold the meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors. To this, a Pharisee asks, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).
To answer, Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan with the message that those who follow Him are called to demonstrate love to all people. Yep, that’s ALL people. Enemies included.
When we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, we reveal Jesus is Lord of our lives.
Is this love a tall order? Yes. But it can start with Valentine’s Day. Let love not just begin—but win.
Even that can be a challenge. We can’t rely on ourselves for this love to just “happen.” Rather, we have to look to—and lean on—God.
Jesus helps. He gathers those near Him as He gathers us today and says, “Humanly speaking [love of both neighbor and enemy on your own], is impossible. But with God everything is possible (Matthew 19:26).”
Gather. See the possible. Rethink Valentine’s Day—and every day.
This blog in an edited version first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on February 13, 2019.