The Real Valentine’s Day
I do not remember ever liking Valentine’s Day. And as time goes on, I have liked it less and less. And why do I say this?
As a kid in elementary school in Portland, Oregon, it was a contest to see who got the most cards. Usually I did not fare well in this. The result was I felt left out. Then in high school, it was worse. Since I was a ‘homely’ kid, I rarely saw any cards.
Over the decades then, the mere sight of Valentine Day displays in the stores has brought me down, and an old sadness creeps over me. Wish I could get past this, but I seem unable to do so.
Then as a pastor, I tend to worry about all those in the congregation, as well as others who are not thrilled with the day. Even at this moment I think of those who may feel unloved, or uncared for, and the same old sadness comes around.
his year, however, I must admit to some progress, due largely to working on a sermon I will preach this coming Sunday, February 17, at Miller Avenue Church. It has to do with the paradox of faith. On the one hand, we are elect and called by God who gives us the gift of faith. On the other hand, we are told to believe in Jesus in order to have salvation.
So, which is it? Is it election, and nothing to do with us, or must we believe in Jesus also? I am convinced it is both at once. This is the ultimate paradox, and it is unavoidable. Let me illustrate this with two passages. First:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Right, the most quoted passage in the Bible, John 3:16. What does Jesus mean here? God loves the world, and world in the Greek is cosmos, meaning God loves all of His creation and we are part of it. And yes, the word love in the Greek is agape. Then, Jesus states, “whoever believes in him” meaning that faith/belief (they are the same word in the Greek) is necessary—we must believe. Then second:
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)
My point on this Valentine’s Day is that God loves us. He loves us and wants us to believe in His Son Jesus, who died in our place so that our sin may be forgiven and we would be in His presence forever. As the Apostle John said, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
(Propitiation means that Jesus died in our place.)
All loves are either fleeting or they end all together. But not so with the love God has for us. This love is solid and lasts forever.
Here, my dear friends, is my valentine message to each of you.
February 14, 2019