Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Love Holiday

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."  1 Corinthians 13:3

In the month of February, we Americans, and maybe other cultures around the world, (I really don't know), celebrate a silly holiday called Valentines Day, where we celebrate love.  We buy loved ones cards and candy and gifts and profess our undying love for each other, and often times you will find scripture verses about love quoted and talked about- even from the pulpit in church.  I'll be honest, I don't celebrate Valentines Day.  My husband doesn't either, and my kids don't really give it much attention either, it's just another day for all of us.

The thing is, the real love holiday is the one we're celebrating this coming weekend- the holiday of Easter.  This is the ultimate example of love- this is the day that we should be sharing our love with one another as we reflect on the great love that was shown us, when God sent his only Son to bear all our sins and make a way for us to spend eternity with Him.  The ultimate love was shown to each and every one of us when a man, guilty of no sin, was beaten and hung on a cross for no other reason than that the people didn't like some of the things that He was saying.  The ultimate act of love came when Jesus descended into hell and unlocked the gates, and set the righteous free. 

Easter is all about love.  It's not about candy and eggs and bunnies and chicks, though it is fun to see all the pastels and spring characters after a very, very long winter.  Easter is all about love.  Love, love, love.  It's about unconditional love.

Unconditional love.  Do you know what doesn't come with unconditional love?  A critical eye.  If there is one thing that I would confess to being guilty of is that all-too-often, my Christian-colored-glasses come off, and the critical-eye ones go on.  I always regret it once I know what I'm doing, but there have been far too many times where I find myself looking at a brother or sister in Christ and criticizing something about them.  Something about their appearance, something about their lifestyle, or even something even more trivial- like the music they listen to or the games they might choose to play on Facebook.   The fact is that God made each and every one of us to be a completely unique individual.  How boring would our lives be if all our friends had the same exact tastes and likes.  It would be way too Stepford Wivish in my book.

And so, when I find myself doing those things, I try really, really hard to focus on something else that I love about that person.  When I do that, thoughts of love fill my mind, and just like that, I've banished the critical eye just for a moment.  When we let that critical eye focus for too long, it can cause a cancer of sorts.  It can cause a type of cancer that affects the way we love a brother or sister in Christ, and it can become terribly difficult to remove that blemish from our thoughts.  Only love can completely overcome those untoward thoughts we may have. 

Easter is often celebrated as a time of new beginnings- as well it should- it is usually celebrated (at least in our country) at the beginning of spring- a time of true new beginnings.  A time of restoration.  And so I want to challenge my readers this morning as we go into the holiday weekend.  Have you been spending too much time wearing those Critical-Eye glasses?  Try swapping them out this weekend for the Love Glasses.  Try looking at those around you as Jesus looks at those around you.  Jesus loved them so much, He gave his life for them.  Jesus loved YOU so much, He died so that you, too, might have eternal life.  Let's take that love this weekend, that precious gift, and let's share it.  Let's make Easter the true love holiday that it really is.

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