The virtue of love has been turned into an enterprise: movies, music, commercials (I recently saw a highly suggestive “Liquid Plumber” commercial!) billboards, and novels, will usually employ some form of love (usually romantic) in an attempt to catch our attention and turn a profit. Valentine’s Day is coming (gentlemen take note!), and many males will be on the hot seat to show love in predictably routine gestures. Chocolates, roses, and cards will be in high demand. I confess that I am to Valentine’s Day what Ebenezer Scrooge is to Christmas. “Ba Humbug!” –as a Christian I can’t help but think we are missing something.
“Maybe the slightly cynical pastor will be assuaged by having four love holidays!?”
There are four terms for love that appear in the Greek New Testament. All four terms are simply translated as “love” (or charity as is the case in the King James). In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Four Loves, he names and expounds the four words; storge refers to a familial kind of love in which the givers and recipients did not choose the other, phileo is the love shared between friends, eros is romantic in nature, and agape is a higher, godly-sort of love.
Thinking of love in a multi-dimensional way makes sense. Valentine’s Day is primarily romantic in nature. This is why my brothers would be “creeped out” if I sent them a card and a box of chocolates with an “I Love You” sentiment attached. We tend to overuse the word and say things like, “I love those shoes” or “I just love football”. Join me in my campaign to protect the word!
I am reminded often as I meet with folks and discuss the intricacies of relationships that we experience the best results when we choose to love. When we wait for love to happen or hope to “fall-in” it (almost sounds like something you step-in), we miss the flowers for the cellophane wrap. God gave of His best to Jesus and Jesus gave His best in return. Love isn’t just pontificated upon by Jesus, it was lived out in His caring for the poor, fatherless, widowed, deprived, shamed, scorned, forsaken, lame, and sick. This agape is what we are to strive for and it is a far cry from being a movie on the Hallmark Channel. The way of agape love that Jesus lived out was the way of the cross.
Lent means “springtime” which refers to a period of forty days prior to Easter. This is a time when Christians worldwide observe practices like fasting. You may hear conversations like, “what are you giving up for lent?” Sacrifice is what brings love out of the murky realm of the intangible and allows it to step into the light of a noonday sun. Let us not miss the point in our observations. Loving sacrificially is our calling if we are to follow Christ’s lead. Empty practices and observances are what our Lord detested.
How will we know that we found this agape love? We can measure it up to I Corinthians 13 for starters. The truest, God-given love “never fails”. My prayer is that we can experience what Paul hails as the greatest virtue today and always.
How Fasting, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication
can lead us through life's wilderness.
5 Wednesdays of Lent (Feb.20th - March 20th)
We will begin with a light meal followed by a time of worship, study and prayer.
Adults and children of all ages are welcome. After our meal and some singing the children will share in some more "kid friendly" activities.
“The Value of a Life” - Pastor Mark Snyder
The question, “How much is he/she worth?” is something that we, as a society, have come to ask. This inquiry deals with a person’s “net worth” (the sum of bank accounts + investments + property + annuities, retirement, etc. minus debts). This question may be helpful in the financial world but I propose that this is an obscene way to measure the intrinsic value of an individual life. Who or What dictates the value of a life? Does the stock market? Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chair)? President Obama? We do not rely on any one person or institution for the answer. We look elsewhere. Perhaps we are still looking….
The year 2012 ended tragically. Our nation and world is still reeling from the needless loss of life that occurred in a Newport, Connecticut school on December 15th. The deacons of the church made calls that evening to announce a prayer service for the following day. We sought God aloud and in silence, asking for the Almighty to come to the rescue. We prayed for the individual families by name on Sunday. We grieved for those much closer to the tragedy and shared an unspeakable void for we, too had experienced loss.
The value of life is the issue that is now front and center in the national arena. Politicians, activists, lobbyists, health officials, psychologists, lawmakers, and others will continue to weigh-in on the subject. In all our human efforts we simply cannot rewrite the story. We can only work at preventing another horror. The fact that a person is irreplaceable should awaken us to the fact that we simply are unable to value life adequately.
God values life infinitely more than us. Christmas is God’s response to a terrible tragedy. God’s own people have rejected their first love incessantly and must pay the penalty for their sin. God intervenes. “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus is born to us so that we may learn the way of LIFE.
The grand resolution to our human tragedy is found in Jesus. God sent Jesus “so that the world would be saved” (John 3:17). God understands our loss in a profound and intimate way. If we are truly growing in our understanding of the nature of God than a person’s “net worth” will be ever on the rise. May our worldly methods of assessing human worth be replaced with a Godly understanding that our lives are worth the death of His one and only son. In this light, a life could never be more valuable.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -Jesus