For centuries Valentine's Day has been a time for people to celebrate love and relationships. School children learn to give valentines to their classmates. Valentine's Day is an important date for couples to express their love to one another. Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to tell our friends and family members that we love them.
This year Valentine's Day falls on Sunday, which makes it the perfect time for us to affirm our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ as we worship together. In John 15:12 Jesus teaches us to "love one another as I have loved you." Jesus' love is described in the original Greek of the New Testament with the word "agape." Agape love is not a feeling. We don't "fall in agape." Agape is a choice to love another person. We were sinners far from God - there was nothing about us that should make Jesus love us. Jesus chose to love us, and because he loves us he died to forgive our sins, save us, and give us eternal life.
In our church we practice "agape" love. Our congregation is diverse - people of different races and cultures, people of all ages, wealthy and poor, highly educated and those with little education. But we choose to love one another because Jesus first loved us. Because of love we pray for one another, serve one another, help each other out in times of need, we build each other up, encourage one another, and help each other grow in our faith. The church is qualitatively different than any organization on earth because of the love we have for one another.
The greatest love is God's love for us. This Sunday in worship we'll study Jesus' "Parable of the Prodigal Son." God is the Father who loves his children. When the younger son rebels and demands his inheritance and then moves away to spend it on wild living, the Father never quits loving his son and readily forgives him and accepts him when he comes back home. The Father loves the older son when his heart is hard and shows resentment toward his brother. God loves us.
God's love is to be celebrated. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13). We are Jesus' friends. He loves us. This Valentine's Day, celebrate God's love for you.