So… Valentine’s Day.
I will be up front and say that I celebrate it. I find that any excuse to spoil my wife is a lot of fun. As we enter February, Hope’s high school ministry is asking us to engage in the process of talking to our students about love. Simple task, right? Now, I have a pretty good resume on this topic. I love my Momma and I love my wife. Both of those relationships have done more for my ability to speak to high school students on this topic than almost any other part of my life. My students in school are similarly taken by my affection for those two women. If I talk with high praise about my mother, students nod their heads in affirmation. If I brag about my wife or share funny stories about how we met, students lean in to hear them.
I contest, however, that I’ve learned more from one other source.
Knowing I would face a myriad of questions about love and romance and sex this month from our high school small group, I went to the Bible. I wanted to take another look at how Jesus loves us.Two important things for the rest of this blog post. First, being a Christian partly means acting like Christ. How do we act like him? Repeat his actions. So we look to the Bible and see how he talks to people. How does he handle adversity? Betrayal? Friendship? Questions? The lowly? The mighty? It’s all in there. We look at how he speaks and acts and we try the impossible: repeat.
Second, if you ever want to know what Jesus thinks about you, you can see it in the gospel. Instead of imagining him sitting down with Nicodemus, imagine he’s across the table from you. Zacchaeus up in the tree? You. Lady at the well? You. Then you just have to listen to what he says or how he challenges. Look at how he pursues and changes. That’s how he thinks of you and what he wants for you. It’s kind of cool.
Anyway, I started reading back through gospel of John. Here is a list of the ways that Jesus, in just ten or fifteen pages, brought love crashing down into people’s lives:
– honors John
– teaches his disciples
– goes seeking his disciples
– calls people to higher callings
– keeps the celebration going
– humbles himself
– gets angry about injustice and sin
– teaches the truth
– breaks through barriers and rules to love people, even at their worst
– encourages people away from sin
– offers healing in word and deed
– goes out of his way to find people
– helps the weak and the lost
– earns the right to speak
– speaks with authority
– feeds the hungry
– invites people into his power
– offers life
– handles rebukes with wisdom and kindness
– doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t
– doesn’t abandon
– meets people where they are
– helps heal someone’s sight (physical and spiritual)
Wow. So that’s… a big list. This week, I read that to my high school students. It’s kind of daunting if we’re being honest about it. I told them that for relationships in their present and relationships in their future, for relationships with friends or with love interests, parents or teachers, it was still a heck of a place to start. What if love is a repetition? What if it’s looking at the Person that has loved us completely, and trying to do what he did? What if we could adopt just a few of these things into our every day conversations and interactions? What if we did that over, and over, and over again?
It makes repetitive love sound a lot more interesting than the alternative.