6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Valentine sermon. Call to love the unlovable.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! It is the day of love. The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Webster defines valentine as, “a gift or greeting sent to someone (special).” It almost always contains a message of love or affection that the sender has for the receiver. God has sent to this world a valentine, a message of the love He has for all mankind.

Read 1John 4:7-21

In our scriptures this morning we encounter a God who is, first of all, love. And vulnerability, it is the character Jesus modeled for us in dying on the cross. He was vulnerable in love to the point of incredible suffering. He knew what the cross would mean for him, and yet he considered the value of his own life as worthless compared to the risk of losing our souls forever.

Often vulnerability is the very thing that’s missing in our relationships with God and other people. You and I cannot cultivate a genuine, loving relationship with God if we are unwilling to let Him see us as we really are. Jesus already knows us, but when we try to hide ourselves from Him, well, we are not being honest with ourselves or our Savior.

The holiday of Valentine’s is rooted with intimacy. Genuine intimacy with God requires an open-handed trust in the goodness of His heart. We must learn to trust God’s love, before we can grow in relationship with Him. . We talk about the importance of trusting God’s love all the time, but we live like it’s the furthest thing from the truth.

Every one of you has claimed that you want to reach the lost, but yet you wait patiently for the lost to come into these doors.

Let me share with you a story that will let you know where my heart lies in reaching the lost. This true incident happened to Tony Campolo a few years ago. A few years ago Tony flew to Hawaii to speak at a conference. The way he tells it, he checks into his hotel and tries to get some sleep. Unfortunately, his internal clock wakes him at 3:00 a.m. The night is dark, the streets are silent, the world is asleep, but Tony is wide awake and his stomach is growling.

He gets up and prowls the streets looking for a place to get some bacon and eggs for an early breakfast. Everything is closed except for a grungy dive in an alley. He goes in and sits down at the counter. The fat guy behind the counter comes over and asks, "What d'ya want?"

Well, Tony isn't so hungry anymore so eying some donuts under a plastic cover he says, "I'll have a donut and black coffee."

As he sits there munching on his donut and sipping his coffee at 3:30, in walk eight or nine provocative, loud prostitutes just finished with their night's work. They plop down at the counter and Tony finds himself uncomfortably surrounded by this group of smoking, swearing hookers. He gulps his coffee, planning to make a quick getaway. Then the woman next to him says to her friend, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be 39." To which her friend nastily replies, "So what d'ya want from me? A birthday party? Huh? You want me to get a cake, and sing happy birthday to you?"

The first woman says, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"

Well, when Tony Campolo heard that, he said he made a decision. He sat and waited until the women left, and then he asked the fat guy at the counter, "Do they come in here every night?"

"Yeah," he answered.

"The one right next to me," he asked, "she comes in every night?"

"Yeah," he said, "that's Agnes. Yeah, she's here every night. She's been comin' here for years. Why do you want to know?"

"Because she just said that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think? Do you think we could maybe throw a little birthday party for her right here in the diner?"

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