It’s almost Valentines Day, the day people either adore or abhor. Which one are you? Are you excited about the national day of love, anticipating great gifts and adoration from a special someone? Or are you dreading the commitment and obligation, eager for the day to pass and normalcy to continue?
Andrew and I have always held the view that we should seek to love each other all year long, not just on a mandated holiday. We don’t like that a holiday tells us how to love or when to love each other - never mind the cost of it all! This week, though, as I have watched my kids write notes of love and encouragement to friends and teachers, and have thought about Jesus, I realize that Valentines Day specifically seeks to carry out the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love, so many of us think of it as just a feeling. But Jesus can’t command a feeling, he can only command an action. When he says "love your neighbor" he is telling us to show love even when we don’t have feelings of affection. Of course, the feeling of affection is a natural part of love and it can enable us to better perform the the actions of love. But, as many of us know, we don’t always have loving feelings to use as fuel and this is why the command is essential.
So why does Jesus command us to love our neighbor (neighbor being the one nearest us in any given moment)? Because he knows that at the depths of the human heart, our greatest longing, the thing we need to hear loudest, above all the other noise in this world, is that we are fully known and truly loved!
Keller says this, “When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - The Meaning of Marriage
Loud is exactly how Jesus has loved us. For it was at our worst, our sin nailing him to the cross, that he spoke the words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”Luke 23:34 He knows us, every beautiful and ugly part, and he chooses to stay on the cross and do the most loving thing he can, die, so we can know true love. Now that's Loving Loud - loving us in a true tangible way we can hear, see, touch and experience!
Do you know that you have been loved loud; radically loud? I hope you do! Because it is only when you truly know the depths of God’s great love for you that you can love those around you. His love is the fuel for loving others, and his Spirit is the one making this love ever more true in your heart so that your heart cries out, “YES, I am more known and more truly loved than I could ever imagine! What could be better!”
Loving Loud Today
In Marriage, where does your spouse need to hear I know you, I see you, and I truly am committed to loving you? Study your spouse like you did when you were first dating. How does he/she receive love best? Is it through loving words of encouragement, a thoughtful gift, a special evening thoroughly thought out and planned (sitter and all), or a dinner date where you specifically speak those words of love over him/her? Is it through you doing an activity you both love? Where do you need to offer forgiveness as a way of loving your spouse? Make your love obvious, loud, special and radical - make it tangible as Jesus has for you.
Outside of Marriage: There are many people who do not have a spouse or loved one doting on them this Valentines Day - singles, divorcees, and widows/widowers. How can we as a community of love show them Jesus’ great love for them? Who can you write a “Love Note from God” to and leave it on their door with a special something? How can you show love in a tangible and real way?
Lets be a community that loves radically because we have been loved radically. The nation has given us a free day to express love, so lets do it up! But lets not stop with Valentines Day. May every day be a day to show your neighbor love. And you will find, the more you do the actions of love, the more you will feel the emotion of love towards those people God has placed in your path. Love Loud so your neighbor can hear!