Be My Valentine
I was thinking about love this week. I don’t know what made the subject cross my mind…. The stores have had valentine’s day decorations up since at least New Year’s. I was a little shocked when I saw them but, I was able to ignore that hint.
But it is hard to ignore the “gilt train” of commercials started on TV well before February got under way. The guilt train can be found on pretty much any TV / cable channel. This week the train cam by so often I remembered the ads during the election. It seemed like there were with the constant ads focused on one subject. But this week, instead of president or other elected position the subject was all money…..
Yes I said money.
The ads explain what we need to spend – purchase - arrange in order to have a quality relationship, a romantic/loving relationship.
The guilt train is filled with revolving commercials about jewelry, and travel, Chocolate Candies, Cute fuzzy bears. Is there any one here that missed the ads for roses???
Ok, Let me be specific, the guilt train is a tool used to speak primarily to married men. Men that need to be reminded and reminded and reminded that at least on a yearly basis that it is important to acknowledge how important our marriage relationship is.
It speaks to single guys too….however they are normally more in tune and take less for granted.
Now it is not that the commercials say we should feel guilty, they just show us positive emotional responses for doing the “right thing”…hugs, tears, smiles….when the flowers arrive or the jewelry box is presented.
Ok, let me reveal a little secret, guys are visual. When advisers want men to purchase a car, or a boat or roses they show us how it looks, and how it makes people feel….about us!!!!
They manipulate men by appealing to our inability to understand women.
-- You know I guess I am getting more and more nostalgic. It seems that I am able to remember the past as the best of time and the worst of times. All the specialty advertising awoke memories of Valentines seasons in the past.
I thought back to my elementary school days. I remember making valentines in class. The red construction paper cut into the shape of a heart. The white lacey paper that was glued around the edge. I don’t remember being too neat. I do seem to remember being excited to take it home to my mom.
I also remember filling in the to and from on valentines from the store….. for the whole class. The teacher sent home a list with every student’s name; I suspect it was probably actually a writing exercise.
Sometimes, I would choose particular valentines for certain people. I especially remember searching the box of cards for the perfect valentine for that very special person… My teacher. I always started with the teacher card, doing as neat a job as I possibly could. It was important to get a good response from the teacher.
My hand writing has never improved.
Occasionally, I would mark out words on the front, not wanting any girl to get the mistaken idea. It is not my fault that my mom made me make a card for everyone….wither I liked them or not.
Then on the day closest to Valentines Day we delivered them to people’s desk or boxes or bags along the wall. The girl’s mail boxes were heavily decorated with harts and lace and lots of red. The boys just had the minimum, a name if we were allowed to get away with it.
I remember later days in high school. Ordering a flower from some school club for my sweet heart. I seem to remember spending all I had to get the best gifts and cards I could.
Love can make a person do some strange things, it can make you act crazy, it can make you take risk that a sane person would never consider.
I had one additional deep thought this week. The more I thought about Love the more I remembered how much it hurt.
I hope that ya’ll can remember that painful feeling of young love. Sometimes it was hidden deep inside of you. Perhaps only exposed when you looked…..at a distance toward that person that caught your eye. I guess it was called a crush.
--- Today’s scripture is probably the most quoted scripture ever. You see it on a sign in the bleachers on ball games.
People can say it with you if you start to quote it. I would venture to guess that if you ask a random person what John 3:16 sez they could give an accurate paraphrase if they have ever spent any time in church.
John 3:16 is the simplified statement of the Gospel.
It is similar to a valentine; a valentine is a simplified statement of love and friendship. I can not think of a Valentine I have ever seen that would actually express the love I have for Renee. Love is more complex that a catchy slogan on a colorful card.
Be mine, True Love, Be My valentine all fall short of how I feel, but since I don’t know how to express it myself in words. The extra price of a Hallmark card, all too often, has to do. I can only hope that the depth of my feelings is understood from the “off the rack gesture.”
-- Especially since my scissors and glue skills have also not improved that much.
John 3:16 is a valentine, the words are powerful and the meaning is deep beyond words, however the statement is brief.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That is the statement of the gospel, in the simple terms, that you can print on a card with a lovely image and mail it to someone you want to give the hint to.
It can be whispered on a plane or at a restaurant. It can be a conversation starter, to test the waters before you jump into a full description of the love of Jesus Christ.
But this little scripture represents a whole lot more. It is a statement that tries to explain the heart of God.
For God So loved the World, perhaps we need to address this valentine a little more personally.
For God so loved Tom…..
For God so lived Betty,
For God so lived Larry,
For God so loved Nancy,
For God so loved politicians, doctors attorneys, liars, thieves, alcoholics, adulterers, murders…..
It is important that we understand that the word “world” in our scripture is not limited to people like us… it means every person no matter how undeserving they may appear to us.
That he gave his only son,
That he gave his most precious possession,
That he gave all his money…. Baseball card collection…. Last M&M….His new 50 inch HD television.
When God loves, he places everything at risk.
The love He feels for us hurts and causes physical and emotional pain.
Folks, there are a lot of people that I would risk my health and maybe my life for. There is even a chance that is true for any of you in this room depending on the circumstances.
Love makes you do some strange, risky and expensive stuff.
However, I can not think of a single person in the world that I would choose to risk Renee or the kid’s lives for.
-- Each of us makes choices about what we will do for others everyday.
God chose to give his son. Folks that is expensive and sort of crazy and I fear not being worth the cost.
I want to go back to the memories of young love again.
When I looked at cards I received in my mail sack, I sometimes noticed an underlined word or a hand drawn heart added to one of the valentines.
I wondered what it meant. Did it mean anything? Did this person intend to send me a message?
Do remember the feeling when someone said he or she likes you…
How do you know? So and so told me that they do….
Really… They like me?
I am a gullible guy. If it looked like some girl “liked” me… I “liked” them back.
I learned to be more careful over time. I got burned a few times and my chocolate milk budget went down the tubes because their “like” was not about relationship as much as getting something.
God’s valentine to us and the “rumors” we hear from the scriptures, indicate that He likes, No it is much more than that…. He LOVES us and is looking for a response from us.
“that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Webster defines valentine as, “a gift or greeting sent to someone (special).
God has sent to this world a valentine, a message of the love He has for all mankind.
God’s message of love is so real that He takes all the risk. His son pays the physical and emotional price and we receive eternal life.
You need to know the rumors are true. There is no need to doubt because God’s love is mature and constant even when we are full of doubt and fickle.
Even if we take the chocolate milk and ignore his attention. Even if we say get lost and walk away He will constantly watch you from a distance and wait for another opportunity to express His love for you.
-- Something bothers me about all those commercials I mentioned earlier. They tells us the perfect gift for this priceless relationship is available …..and it is on sale….it is discounted.
Here is the real point of our time this morning. While God is faithful we are not always able or willing to match the devotion that He shows us.
I find that to be true in my marriage as well. Every now and then I open my eyes and realize that I let my love for Renee fall in importance. I let all kinds of junk get in the way of showing her I love her on a continuous basis.
I take our relationship for granted and in reality, I get selfish.
I like the fact that clean socks magically appear in the drawer and that clean clothes appear on hangers in my closet.
I take a lot of things that require time and hard work for granted and I don’t automatically do my share of chores or even give much deserved acknowledgement to balance the relationship.
I have excuses, I am tired, I worked late, I don’t feel so well cover up the fact that I like to be spoiled. I like getting good stuff with less effort on my part.
I like offering discounted or left over gifts of time and effort instead of offering my best.
-- Is there a chance that you are guilty of the same thing in the relationship with God?
Compare how you feel and act today with what you remember about the first few years after you received and responded to God’s valentine.
-- I will guess that you feel and act differently.
-- Who changed in this relationship? Who is taking who for granted?
Folks, all of us that claim the name of Christ, “claim to be Christians”, need to understand that if we are followers of Christ we are automatically givers of love.
In a way we are the continuation of God’s original valentine (Jesus Christ).
We are called to love deeply, emotionally, and to take risk to show our love of others in the name of Christ.
If we are taking what Christ has done for granted, if we are not excited about our relationship with him, then we will stop doing the things that show our love.
Folks, my love for God and my love for you can see that there is some attention missing in our relationship with God.
We as a church have been enjoying special treatment from our first love. We were overwhelmed by the extravagance of his valentine and excitedly accepted his love.
Our hearts pounded in our chest and we could not wait to go places together. We dressed up and put on smell good stuff. We held open doors and read scripture and prayed with the love songs in our hearts.
As time passed, I fear that we all became too comfortable and our relationship routine and now we are going through the motions. Doing what we think is the minimum, just enough to get by. We offer little or no risk of our love or abilities in the name of Christ.
We don’t show any excitement about our love, the kind of excitement that other people notice as you can’t seem to hold back a smile or joy because of the love in your heart.
We are taking our God for granted.
We are accepting his gifts and expecting the fulfillment of promises willing to receive everything he offers with little or no intention of giving back.
Little or no work on improving the relationship.
Little or no expression of devotion that the world would notice that says I am in love and I hope you are too.
Folks, everyone of us needs to give and receive love here on earth and more importantly we hunger to feel the love of our heavenly father.
I hope you will think about this valentine from God and acknowledge his gifts in your prayers.
That you will search for His heart in the Bible. Take time this afternoon or tomorrow and reread 1 Corinthians 13.
Are you willing to offer God a real response to His gift, a gift that was perfect and not discounted or on sale.
A gift that He offers to each of us no matter what we think of ourselves.
All Glory be to God!