As we enter mid-February itís that time of year when my little girl is getting her Valentine cards ready for all her preschool classmates. My daughter enjoys making these cards with my wife as each one is specially made for those in her class. Itís always interesting to see what she comes home with from her peers. To be honest, Iíve never been able to understand how a picture of a multicolored unicorn or the Incredible Hulk smashing a bad guy with a ďBe My ValentineĒ caption screams love and affection.
Thatís because our culture is totally confused about what love is.
Our society is divided along the fault lines of political ideology, sexual expression, gender identity, and religious belief to name but a few. Likewise our society is divided on the definition of love. If you went to the Festival at Sandpoint and asked 50 different people ďWhat is love?Ē Iíd bet youíd get a wide variety of mutually contradictory answers.
The pervasive thinking about love in our society boils down to the autonomous pursuit of pleasure. ďI can do what I want, with who I want, when I want, as long as I donít hurt anyone.Ē Now, the logical inconsistency with this line of thinking is obvious, (as in, how do you define what hurts someone)?
This finds expression in a myriad of ways with the core of this type of thinking being this: the satisfaction of the individual is the center of love. Itís about my happiness, my pleasure, my desire, my fulfilment, my wellbeing, my body. We could go on and on and on.
But thatís not how the Bible describes love, and quite frankly, when compared side by side, the Bibleís definition of love exposes the modern expression of love for what it is: a lie.
The greatest ideal for love according to the Bible is sacrifice. And who is the foremost example of sacrifice in the Scriptures? Jesus Christ.
ďGod shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).
Thatís why Paul can tell husbands in his letter to the Ephesian church to ďlove your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,Ē (Ephesians 5:25).
According to the Bible, love is most fully expressed through sacrifice.
Friends, donít believe the lie that love is all about pleasing yourself. Donít believe the lie that love has no bounds or restraints or prices to pay.
Real love is most fully expressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
ďFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.Ē (John 3:16-17)
Thatís a love you can trust. Maybe we should try putting that on our Valentines this year.
Brandon Herron is lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Sandpoint. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.