Matters of the Heart
It seems to me that the month of February has been taken over by hearts. The day I am writing this is designated as wear red to support heart health day. The news just shared that candy conversation hearts will be returning to the shelves this season, but with a twist. There will be no words or sayings written on them. Apparently the company who bought the patents as well as all the equipment to make them ran out of time to figure out what to say and how to get it printed on the hearts. So the meaning of these little tokens of affection will be left completely up to the imagination of the giver, and receiver.
Admittedly, this infatuation with hearts in February is connected with the observance of St. Valentine’s Day. A day set aside for all of us to express love for everyone, whether we mean it or not. Many a reluctant second grade boy has faced the horror of having to give a card covered with hearts (and possibly a super hero or two) to every girl in his class. Many an adult man has trembled in fear hoping that his offering was sufficient for that special person in his life. It is ironic that love is so often accompanied by fear. Legend has it that St. Valentine was actually associated with the idea of love because he was known to facilitate marriages between young Christian couples during the era when they were being persecuted by Rome. This does not seem remarkable unless you understand that by marrying them he was exempting these young men from being conscripted into the Roman Army at a time when they were short of soldiers. This did not make the emperor very happy. He had Valentine arrested, but Valentine’s witness to his jailer resulted in him and his family becoming Christians. The jailer released all the Christin prisoners. St. Valentine refused the emperor’s order to stop promoting Christianity and was beaten and beheaded on February 14. How’s that for a love story?
Scripture tells us a lot about love. Some of my favorite verses are found in 1 John 4:16-19.
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.”
These verses remind me that fear has no place alongside of love, if that love is based on the true love that is found in Christ. Such love is not dependent on paper cards, chocolates, flowers, fancy dinners or fine jewelry. It is dependent on the sacrificial love of Christ who tells us, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13-14 (NLT2)