It’s Never Too Late To Love
Depending on your stage of life, Valentine’s Day can be exciting, romantic, confusing, lonely, or depressing.
Whether or not you are in a relationship, holidays like these raise expectations so high that sometimes those expectations are impossible to meet. Today, some people will be let down because they are not in a relationship. Others will be let down for by their significant other, their fiance, or their spouse. The plain fact is that human beings eventually let us down.
On days like these, we must remember the Kingdom of Heaven. Valentine’s Day is not part of the liturgical calendar, of course, but as an artifact of our society, what does Valentine’s Day remind us about God and our relationship with him?
1) God cares about your loneliness. (Gen. 2:18)
2) God establishes friendships, families, marriages, and churches, so you do not need to be alone. (Gal. 3:28)
3) God provides companionship when no one else does. (Ps. 62:2)
4) God restores relationships and will eventually heal every heart. (Rev. 21:4)
No matter how this day goes for you, be comforted that God cares. After all, He is the One who created relationships in the first place. Although we often miss out on healthy relationships, and although we sometimes mess them up, God is always there to heal our broken hearts. When we place our expectations in him, we will never be disappointed.
Barak Obama’s shining moment in the State of the Union debate, and possibly the only memorable moment for the public, was his insistent call for a vote on gun legislation. His tactic — repeating how those affected by gun violence “deserve a vote” — emerged out of necessity and sagacity. Here are two quick lessons that we can learn from the address:
Necessity. Polarization (whether in the workplace, home, or church) prohibits meaningful dialogue, and those who sincerely want change will seek to build consensus. While some will critique Obama’s mention of real-life victims for emotional effect, the point is that real-life issues require a response rather than no response at all.
Sagacity. Effective leadership calls people beyond where they, but never beyond what than they can handle. Our violent-ridden and blood-infatuated society does not want to deal with the deeper issues at hand, but certainly all reasonable people can agree to vote. After all, if you can’t vote, what are you afraid of? Using subtly for effect, understatement attempts to move people toward a response.
Apart from politics, all of us can learn from the rhetoric used in Obama’s fifth State of the Union address. Whether you are a leader, a parent, an overseer, or a preacher, the 2013 SOTU should remind us of the need for consensus and the brilliance of understatement.
2 Tim 2:14
Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
Pastors and church leaders are called to be spiritual “reminderers.” The goal of ministry is not to invent new ideas or new teachings. Instead, men and women need to be reminded what God had already communicated. And when it comes to quarreling, a reminder is what we need.
The reminder not to quarrel is presented before God Himself. God is the authority here, not man. The reason for not quarreling is not ultimately for ourselves, in other words, but because of God.
Quarreling matters to God because it is against His own character. Within the Trinity, the three persons do not argue but exist in perfect unity. Love and respect are made possible in the world because love and respect first existed within God. Rather than condemning or quarreling with us, God displayed His love to the world. (John 3:16-17)
The warning in 2 Timothy 2:14 is not to quarrel about words. This does not mean we should drop out of school, burn our dictionaries, or stop discussing important matters. The warning concerns trivial arguments that damage others. Because of the sin that so easily entangles us, even healthy debates can go astray and, sometimes within seconds, turn into worthless quarrels. As soon as we depart from loving communication in order to prove a point, we sin against others and against God.
In other words, as men and women, we often engage in arguments that do not help the people around us, but ruin them. We need reminders not to quarrel because if we are honest with ourselves we sometimes prioritize arguments over people. As followers of Christ, however, we are called to re-examine our motives, cease from pointless debates, and pursue peaceful and constructive conversations with one another.
The family was designed by God to be a unique place, the most basic form of community, where much of our spiritual growth can occur.
Because God designed families, churches should support families and minister to them. In this effort, churches need to encourage families to live out their faith outside of Sunday morning. It is during the week, within the natural context of our home, where we make our daily decision to follow Christ.
At a formal level, midweek gatherings help parents, children, and youth to refocus on Christ. At the same time, there needs to be balance. Especially for young families, rather than “over programming” and having families over-commit (which can be counter-productive to spiritual growth), churches should support spiritual growth that can take place within the home. Extra help should be provided for young families who are just starting their journey.
We should never forget that churches need to be a “second family” for dozens, if not hundreds of people. Many do not have families, and others do not have healthy families. Because of this, it is important for the church to be sensitive to these needs and provide a safe place for orphans, singles, divorced, and widows. As the church loves as a family and ministers to those in need, the gospel is supported and enabled to spread (Acts 6).