Today is the first day of February. Love is in the air. It’s also selling diamonds on the television and candy in the grocery store. This time of year it takes the form of pink glittery hearts, red roses and lacy cards. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day as a rule because its celebration generally lacks creativity. I adore fresh-cut flowers and I do think red roses are pretty but they’ve never been my first choice. A new potted plant would be awesome. I’m in the market for confederate jasmine. I’d also choose pie over the finest gourmet chocolate and a canoe trip over a candle lit dinner. I’m not a cynic. I think we’ve commercialized and packaged romance so it looks a lot like a Hallmark card and very little like love. It’s easier that way. The risks are pretty low; just sign the check and your love offering is on its way. It’s February after all and even if you neglect to do so the rest of the year, it’s time to show some love.
Yes, it’s the season for love. The world needs real love today. Tunisia and Egypt are in chaos. Haiti is still trying to rebuild from devastating earthquakes last year. Australia is bracing for a potentially deadly cyclone. Pakistan is drowning in filthy flood water. This world needs love today and not the paper heart kind. We need more than well wishes and financial aid for the afflicted. We need more than peace talks and promises of justice. Our pledges to the worthiest causes are just as flimsy as a valentine.
We need love as God defines it: one sinless man, a cross and an empty grave. Love that takes a risk. Love that gives freely. Love marked by mercy, grace, justice and hope. It’s Jesus Christ who loves us so fully and completely. Only from Him can we learn what it means to love. It’s not a warm feeling but a reality that transforms families, marriages, friendships, communities and nations.
We don’t need another heart-shaped box of chocolates. We need to be shaped by God’s heart.