Today is one day before Valentines, not that you are necessarily reading this on Valentines day or even in February. You may be tempted to skip this particular post simply because you expect it to be full of bad poems, references to flowers, or other mushy or trite platitudes about love. I can’t fault you for feeling that way, our world has so cheapened the word love to make it almost meaningless. Teenage guys (and sometimes girls) use it to manipulate their significant other to go further than God has provided for in His word. Opponents of a point of view, or sports team assume that If I don’t love something I therefore must hate it. We cover up our true feelings for something saying “I love it” to the 17th macaroni art project as we struggle to find room on the fridge to post it, and secretly hope the dog eats it so we can not have to look at it one day more. All of those feelings come up around Valentines day and so I also fall for that hyped emotional state that surrounds this time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love (sorry), I value and hold in high esteem the principles of expressing our feelings to each other. We need to let people, friends, family, spouses (especially) know how we feel about them. I encourage you to stop reading this turn off your computer, or phone’s browser and pick up the phone and call someone who matches the description above and have a meaningful, intentional, relational discussion. I’ll wait.

Great, welcome back, how do you feel? Oh you didn’t do what I asked you to, you just jumped ahead saying I’ll do that after I finish reading, well sorry. I love you too much to let what the Holy Spirit is stirring in your heart pass you by. I’m praying for a great conversation, one that you didn’t even expect to happen.

OK. So how do you feel? Did the person just hang up on you? I doubt it. Did they say “thanks I love you too, now I gotta get back to reading a blog/scrolling social media/washing the dishes or any other menial task”? I doubt it. They may have had a legitimate excuse, I’m in a meeting with the boss, I am driving so I can’t talk now, I’m in church (wait, why are you reading the blog and not in service, paying attention to what God is teaching, and worse, why did you call someone!) However I bet they said, call me back in 20 minutes, or better yet,I’ll call you. We all treasure relationships where we are loved. We desire to know and to be known. To have someone see the deepest, most venerable parts of me and still want relationship with me. In 1st John 4:10, the disciple that Jesus loved, lets us know that God Loves us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We read this same passage in a myriad of places in scripture, John 3:16, Romans 5:8 Ephesians 2:4, which we will cover in later blog posts, however I was drawn to this one today. Maybe because the youth group just covered 1st John, where we “realize” or see with “real eyes” what was always there. How often do we get so focused on the world around us, we are distracted by the colors, sounds,and all the noise, we miss the things that matter. God Loves You! God Loves Sarah, Sam, Joe, Billy, Tyler, Alexis, Matt, Melissa, Doug, Beth, Debbie, Gene, Abby, Carole, Richard, Nathan, Cory, Craig, every name you can think of, God loves you. Read it again, God loves (your name)! That means He wants to spend time with you, He wants to share His secrets with you, He wants to know your secrets, He wants what is best for you and this Love is the best of all the loves. We speak of many types of love. The eros love, physical love, I love you because you look good or make me feel good. This is the love we have for pizza, or porn, we eros things that serve our needs but we don’t value them beyond that. Then there is phili love, or the love of a friend for another. I like hanging out with you, you are cool, but I may not share my details with you or expect you to share with me. We can hang out and love each other as long as we are sharing something in common with each other. This is the sports fans, or the D&D crowd that love being with each other but are often not deeply invested in one another’s lives. Then there is storge, or empathatic or family love. This is the love that goes deeper but still has its limits. I storge my sister, I often wanted her to suffer pain as she caused me pain, but when she was in pain I was ready to defend her to the death. It is an odd thing, I like you as long as you are behaving, but I love you always. Similar this is often how parents treat their kids, when things are good, great I want to be with you, when things are not, I just tolerate, or less. Finally we come to Agape, or the unconditional love that God has for us. No matter what, we can be “perfect” or we can be “wretched”. He loves us just the same. We know that He loves us based on those verses above, He demonstrated that while we were ignoring Him, He entered our world, lived a perfect life, paid the price for your and my mistakes and now is waiting for us with open arms. I pray that you have a wonderful Valentines day with your significant other and your family, but more than that I pray that you have a lifetime celebrating Jesus’s love for you!