Valentine’s day is a fun time to celebrate the special person in your life but my favourite love based holiday actually comes later in the year, the holiday that is actually most dedicated to celebrating love is Easter.
I love any excuse to celebrate (I even make up some sometimes) and it is great fun to celebrate Valentine’s with my hubby, we usually swap cards with animal puns (such as you are otterly adorable!), give each other small gifts, and eat KFC - good times had by all!
Yet Valentine’s can be a difficult time for people who don’t have a boy/girlfriend or spouse. Valentine’s is also about the glitz and glam of love – spending special time together amidst gifts and chocolates while basking in the warm glow of fuzzy feelings.
There’s nothing wrong with these things unless you forget that what is most important in life is not special events or even human love but the love that comes from God our creator, king, and father.
Love – what is it really?
The English language does a poor job of defining love since we have the same word to describe our feelings for bacon as for our spouse. From observing society, the meaning of love seems to be ‘enjoyment of someone’ or ‘liking someone enough to want to stay with them’.
People talk about ‘falling in love’ or say things like ‘the love is not there anymore’. Love is seen as a desire to be satisfied or a feeling that cannot be changed yet all these definitions fall dangerously short of describing what love is. In John chapter 4, verses 9 – 11 the apostle describes love like this:
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
This passage makes no mention of likes, desires, or feelings but instead talks about sacrifice and God making the first move.
Love is not about what makes us feel good but about desiring the good of another person. Love is not a mystical feeling that comes and goes but something solid and enduring that survives the ups and downs of life.
Love has many layers including the warm fuzzy layer but when we reduce it to that it is like reducing an ice cream sundae to just the sprinkles! When looking for what true love looks like, we need only to look at Jesus and his love for us that lead him to the cross so we could be reconciled with God and inherit eternal life!
Love – who is it for?
The most common type of love you come across in society is romantic love but that is only one slice of the pizza of love. Love is for between a man and a woman but also for between families, friends, and even those we don’t know.
God can move our hearts with compassion (which comes out of love) to do things to help those we do not have a relationship with.
It is important that we promote this description of love so that people do not measure their worth based on whether they have romantic love and do not feel that their life is missing something essential without romantic love.
Love is to be used to serve others as Paul says in Galatians chapter 5, verse 13, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; Rather, serve one another humbly in love."
Love is other-centred as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 4-5, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
Love overcomes difficulties as Peter says in 1 Peter chapter 4, verse 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
The love between a man and a woman is very special because it brings two people together and makes them one and represents Christ’s love for his church. Even without this blessing from God, people can still experience the fullness and completeness of love because the ultimate love is found in God’s relationship with his people.
The love between a man and a woman is for our time on earth but the love between God and his people is for eternity and since God IS love then knowing God is the way to know true love.
Let us focus this year not just on romantic love and the fun that it is to celebrate that on days such as Valentine’s but let us focus on the greatest love story ever told – Christ dying for us and rising again so that we may be made right with God and inherit eternal life. That is why Easter is the holiday that most revolves around love!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.