“If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” ~ I John 4.20
Valentine’s Day. Today, love is in the air as well as an array of balloons, held tightly as we exited grocery stores and then stuffed them into our cars. Bushes go bare as we purchase roses by the dozen, carried behind our backs or specially delivered to our spouse’s job. Card racks suffer from more of the same as we pick through them for just the right words to say on this special day. It will continue with chocolates and stuffed animals, romantic dinners by candle light, weddings and wedding proposals. Love is indeed on display.
Ah, but it is a specific love, a self- guided love and perhaps for some a self- serving love. Though we aspire to it, this love is not without condition. This is easily discerned when he or she does not bring balloons, flowers, card or candy, when one does not propose as was expected after two years of dating. What would we call this kind of love that though not on display is seen far too many times? These thoughts and actions suggest that there is a way that we want to be loved, that we must be loved or we will not feel loved at all.
And after today, what will we say of our love for each other? Is it summed up or completely captured on this fourteenth day of February? Will we not expect to hear the voice of love until next year around this time? Like a Sunday morning worship service, our love is limited in its expression, contained to one day when we rise early with Bible in hand and file into a building to be reminded of God’s goodness and our need to show our love. But, what about the rest of the week? Does God not want the quality time, the expressions of gratitude, the display of love?
And when do we love those around us, those we see everyday? No, it’s not on the calendar. There are no cards in the card rack or special flowers that would indicate this love. This ability to love is the most revealing, the most telling because it is not found in balloons or red roses, copied expressions of commitment and unfailing love. This love gets at the very heart of who we are for if we cannot love in this way, then we do not love at all. If we do not love God’s creation, our siblings that we see everyday then we do not love God. How can we if, while in a relationship with God, we do not like the handiwork of God? We are giving nothing more than lip- service and are mere deceivers, loving based on what we hope to receive in return while not truly giving love at all.