Thursday, 8 February 2007

My e-mail 8/02/2007

It’s that time of the year again. When you walk past nearly every shop, especially Clinton’s card shop, you see the place is crammed full of fluffy teddy bears with ‘I love you’ embroidered on them, and huge red hearts have been plastered all over the glass window. No one can escape the facts…Valentine’s Day is here.

Are you thinking what to do with your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband on that day, or what to give them? Are you single and have started to despair that you will ever find ‘the one’ and wondering why you haven't yet? Maybe you aren’t and you’re completely satisfied with your life at the moment.
Or you may have forgotten about Valentine’s Day and think it’s a lot of rubbish, which is why you don’t really celebrate it.

The point is that on the day when we are supposed to love each other, we often forget about God’s love for us and that He loves us all, however much we doubt it at times. I find that with the many hymns we sing, the message is less emphasized, and we’re more involved in whether it sounds good or not. We often don’t think about and act on the words often enough and apply them to our lives.

‘For God so loved the world, He gave his one and only son, so whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3v16

I’m sure I’ve chanted this verse so many times in Children’s church that the meaning of it was almost lost to me. But this is a great verse to remind us of how God loves us so much.

‘For God so loved the world….’

If God loves the world, it means He loves us all…everyone! Every nation, every person in every single country across the Earth, including not just Christians but everyone who does not believe in Him.

‘He gave his one and only son’

God didn’t have any other sons or daughters to give away. He had one child, a perfect son - Jesus. If he were a human on Earth now, he’d have got top results in all his exams, always helped his parents with the chores without ever complaining, would have never done anything wrong and would have won the award for being ‘The Nicest Guy on the Planet’. He would be every parent’s dream child …

But God let his innocent and perfect son be crucified for us… put him through so much pain, for us. We, who have done wrong countless times, who could never live up to his high expectations and rejected God as our Father and rebelled against Him.

Think about how much he loves us if He was willing to do that!

‘Whoever believes in Him shall not perish..’

God is not asking us to learn huge chunks of the Bible off by heart, or by going to church every Sunday, or by being ‘religious’. He’s asking us for one thing: belief in what He did for us, how He died and rose again, to wipe the slate clean for us. He died so if we believe in him, we will not go to Hell, a place where we are cut off from God completely and can never escape, but Heaven!

‘But have eternal life..’

Several definitions of eternal are ‘existing always’ ‘for ever’ and ‘without end’. If we believe in what God did for us, we will go to Heaven and stay with God forever. If he wants us to remain with Him forever, to be eternal, his love must be without end and always existing. This means he will never get sick of us hanging around Him for the rest of time because He will never stop loving us. His love for us will never fade!

That Bible verse basically sums up how God's love is so great. It’s amazing to think that God loves all of us, no matter how much we’ve done wrong. He wants us to have a meaningful relationship with Him.
But how can we have a meaningful relationship with Him, if we don’t return the love he has? If a relationship is going to work, it cannot function one way. Both people have to communicate with eachother so that it can work.

‘Jesus replied “ 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22 v 37-40

Ask God if you haven’t already to fill your heart up with love for Him and thank Him for what He’s done for you.

But what about the second command Jesus also instructed us to obey... love our neighbours as ourselves? Does it mean the people living in our road or in the same block of flats as you?

Jesus goes on to tell the story about the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews and when Jesus told his followers that it was a Samaritan who helped a man left for dead at the side of the road, instead of a Pharisee or a Sadducee, highly respected teachers and religious men, many of them would probably have found it a little strange. The point illustrated in this parable is that we should help those who we’d normally stay well clear of - our neighbours are people who we're not meant to be associated with or do not usually like.

In Greek, this type of love shown would be agape love (love for your enemies). In Greek (that I am not studying for GCSE as it looks extremely hard, plus I’m lazy and don’t want to learn another alphabet) there are four words for love: as well as agape, there is Eros (the romantic love that is largely celebrated on Valentine’s Day), Storge (the love for family) and Philia (the love for friends).

I think that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t all be about eros. We should remember and show God’s love, plus agape, storge and philia too.

On my draft, I had quite a long list, titled ‘My tips for Valentine’s Day’. Though I have had no experience with romantic relationships (though some kind people flatter me and assume I have had a boyfriend) I’m suggesting stuff that seems kind of obvious to me and probably to you too.

If you are married or are dating someone, make sure you show them how special they are to you and do something fun together. Don’t get too intense… I repeat again, have FUN! You should really enjoy each other’s company. Try not to make it too cliqued, do something a little bit different from the last time you went out. But remember, if you are not married, don’t believe the world’s message that bombards our lives every day: ‘ If you’ve never had sex and/or you are a virgin, you’re missing out on such a lot, really.’ Don’t believe it. The media has cheapened God’s gift to us. God wants us to have sex, but for when you are married to that person… and God also tells us to be pure, so that rules out ‘stuff’ leading up to ‘doing it’. Remember God should be your top priority, for both of you. If you are worried you might go too far, make sure you go out in a group, preferably with other Christians, so you won’t be tempted to do something you might regret later.

If you are single, enjoy being single! Don’t mope around feeling sorry for yourself that everyone else seems to have a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife. This is a perfect time to deepen your relationship with God (read 1 Corinthians 7 v 32 – 35). Also it’s a good idea not to tell someone you have a crush on how you feel about them, unless you are 100% sure they feel exactly the same way. It’ll save you a lot of heartbreak and embarrassment. But if you do decide to take the plunge and it all goes wrong, remember ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ Psalm 34 v 18. It may not be God's will for you to be married or have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but if it is, His timing is perfect and one day you will meet someone who He has prepared just for you.

Show storge love: show how much you care for your family. Tell them you care, make them a special meal, offer to do something for them, for example the washing up (just a suggestion, it could be something a lot more enjoyable...), send them a note, wishing them a good day… to your children, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, step children, step parents, step grandparents, half brothers, half sisters, step cousins, second cousins, great grand parents, great aunts, great uncles, step third cousins once removed (if you have any you know lol)… okay I think you’ve got the idea. Also I did mention the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ before, so, show your love to other Christians, as we’re all a family too.

Show philia love, which is basically friendship. Bring in chocolates and pass them round and send notes to people telling them you really appreciate being friends with them and that they have a nice day. Have fun with them too!

Show agape love, which is quite difficult to do, especially with someone you can’t stand. Ask God to help you be kind and patient to people that you don’t really get along with and that you would get along better with them, not just on Valentine’s Day, but from now on. Maybe there is no one really that you don’t get along with, but do you find that you often ignore certain people and don’t really want to talk to them, just because you can’t really be bothered or the people are really unpopular and it would do nothing for your ‘reputation’? Sometimes I do, mainly because sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing and I can often be quite shy. Ask God to give you the courage to talk to someone you wouldn’t usually talk to and to maybe start a friendship with them. Act like Jesus… what would Jesus do?

Why not pass this message along to other Christians you know?
I find it great when people remind me of God’s love for us, and perhaps we can spread more love this Valentine’s Day, through remembering it.

Spreading the love around,
Your sis in christ

Imogen xxx

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