Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It's SAINT valentine's day!

Dear Friends,

Several decades ago when I was engaged to be married, my wife-to-be didn't want an engagement ring. That was good news because I really needed to buy four new off-road tires for my Ford F-250 pickup. But being the thoughtful guy that I am, I did want to get her a nice engagement gift. So I went to Smart & Final and bought her an awesome industrial-quality mop bucket and a commercial mop. Yes. I know what you're thinking, but you don't understand. This was a very expensive top-of-the-line, 26 quart Rubbermaid mop bucket in safety yellow with four heavy-duty castors and a high-efficiency, commercial- quality wringer system! And being generous to a fault, I even bought her an extra cotton mop-head. Once married, we’d be moving into a large house with two kids, three dogs, a lot of linoleum flooring and I wanted her to have a fast and efficient system for cleaning the floors. Her mother was appalled at my thoughtfulness and from that day forward she was dead-set against her daughter marrying me. I’ll never forget the look on my mother-in-law’s face as she glared at me throughout the entire wedding ceremony.

And that brings me to Saint Valentine’s Day. While the romance gene may be recessed in my DNA, I’ve learned my lesson and so I no longer buy Valentine's Day gifts for loved ones from Smart & Final or Harbor Freight Tools. As we all know, Valentine’s Day is the day we give cards, gifts, candy and flowers to our special sweethearts, but what is the origin of this day of love and affection?

It was originally a church feast to honor a second century church bishop, Saint Valentine, who had married couples when Roman law prohibited it. Arrested and in jail, Valentine exchanged love notes with a young woman he was courting (that was before church rules banned clergy from being married) and he signed those notes, “from your Valentine.” He was martyred for helping others. 

Victorian England added Cupid to Valentine’s Day cards because Cupid is the pagan god of erotic love and lustful desire. In mythology, Cupid is the son of the love goddess Venus and he holds a bow and arrows which contain the deity’s power. When hit by Cupid’s arrow, the person is filled with uncontrollable lustful desire. Maybe I’m a cranky old Christian curmudgeon but isn’t that Cupid thing just a little too creepy? A naked, androgynous pudgy pagan god with the body of a baby and a genderless face who shoots arrows that fill people with lustful out-of-control desires? I’m wondering if maybe it’s time that we redeem this day of “love” and put the “saint” back into “valentines day.”

The “Two Great Commandments” from Jesus have everything to do with love. He said to Love God and Love Others. Matt 22:37-40 We love God because He first loved us 1 John 4:19 and we love others because once filled with the love of Christ, that love just naturally spills out and onto those who God brings into our lives. Jesus said that our love for one another should be the same as His love for us. And others will know that we are Christians by that Christ-like love that we have for others. John 13:34-35

What would a Christian Saint Valentine’s Day look like? Pastor and Christian author John Piper wrote, “Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others.” The Apostle John writes, “..let us not love in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 In other words, stop just talking about love and do loving deeds. “Love” is a noun that in Christ becomes an action verb.

Loving others may mean that we first help to meet a person’s practical needs. Jesus didn’t just jump up on a tree stump in Capernaum to preach. He first met their physical needs. He fed them, healed them and cast out their demons. He listened to them and heard them. Then they followed Him. We meet a struggling single mom with young kids. She’s succumbing to her addictions and fighting for survival and we tell her that Jesus is the answer. But she can’t hear that because in her world her problem is not spiritual but practical. She needs food for her children. It’s when we do what Jesus would do.. When we love her like Jesus does.. When we help meet her practical needs.. Then perhaps her ears will be opened and we can tell her about Jesus. In the Kingdom of God, maybe every day should be a Saint Valentine’s Day... Amen?

from the AMEN Corner archives - Originally published in 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment