If you were with us for our first Sunday in the new Mosaic Center, you know what a celebration it was of God’s grace and loving kindness to us! What a difference a real “home” makes to the experience of family.
If you weren’t able to join us last week, we still want you to enjoy this journey of love we’re taking together. In last week’s message about becoming a true search-&-rescue team in a world of lost people, we talked a bit about the best, truly God-like motivations for risking friendships, potential rejection, and even possible persecution for the privilege of sharing the Lord we love with others. Chief among great motivations is certainly the love of Christ—that love which flows from the heart of God for the hearts of lost people through the hearts of His people—us.
Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be a good time to invite all of us to take a one-week journey experiencing the love of God for us just a little more each day this week. At the same time I hope we’ll be sharing a little of that God-like love a bit more than normal with others. After all, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day helps people do who already feel love for someone: take the time or effort to express it in an extra-special way?
Lest you think I’ve gone mushy in the head about some “pagan holiday,” let me remind you that the roots of Valentine’s Day are grounded firmly in the soil of God’s loving people. There were, apparently, several different “saints” in the first few centuries of the early church who went by the name Valentine.
One tradition has it that Valentine was a priest in the Roman Church during the third century when Emperor Claudius II ruled. Claudius not only persecuted Christians but decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. So he outlawed marriage for his soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret while at the same time ministering to persecuted Christians in prison.
When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be imprisoned. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. (I can hear the “Ahhhhhs” from romantic hearts even now!)
While we don’t know for certain how much of that story is legend and how much is history, what we do know is that the love of Jesus Christ was flowing to and through His children in the early days of the church that they were more than ready to sacrifice their lives for others because of the love of God for them.
Sacrificial love is often very different from romantic love we celebrate today. Romantic love may or may not be sacrificial. It can, in fact, be very self-focused—wanting to be loved in return more than give love that costs.
So here is the singular thought today about the love of God for us: God’s love is a giving love. Simple concept with life-changing power. So I invite you: take just 60 seconds and write down, as fast as you can, as many of the things you know God has given you in the person (the Valentine?) of Jesus Christ. And when you are done with that, take another 60 seconds to just thank God for everything on that list. If you’re even more of a romantic in your relationship with God, you might want to take it a step further and write God a short Valentine prayer of gratitude for all His love means to you.
Lastly, as you move through the next twenty-four hours, why not try to GIVE every person you meet or see something. It can be as simple as a smile, or a warm greeting, or a kind hug, or thoughtful text or…you fill in the blank. But live the next 24 hours focused on giving your life away. It won’t cost you what it cost Jesus…or St. Valentine…but it will change you and the world we all live in.
I’ll touch base tomorrow with another thought about God’s love. In the meantime, have a blessed Valentine’s WEEK!