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Friday, February 14, 2014

Who's Your Valentine?

The best valentine a man or woman could ever have is Jesus. Not only does he love each and everyone of us beyond what another person could ever love us, He has all of the characteristics that we look for in a potential Valentine!
Sort of sounds like a want ad: Looking for Valentine; must be humorous, creative, respectful, loyal, compassionate, be a great listener, love me deeply, able to forgive, and must know how to celebrate the good in life.
He is funny - think of Jesus 'casting out demons'... He didn't just banish them (think Charmed - little bits of disappearing black smoke), but he put them  in a bunch of wild pigs that went running amuck all over the countryside. Consider some of the parables he told - most have that 'aha, ha ha ha' moment as he makes a point about loving God and others or giving everything to follow him.
And speaking of the parables he made up and told - creativity! The prodigal son, the man with the 10 talents, the vineyard (I am the vine, you are the branches) and the list goes on and on. Story-telling is an art in and of itself, but to be able to create the story, make the point you want and tell the story in an intriguing way? That's pure creative skill.
When Jesus was here on earth, he respected the men, women and children that he was surrounded by every day. Regardless of stature, social standing, sick or not, man or woman, Jesus gave respect to all. He even respected and revered the people that it was 'OK' to shun - the lepers, the tax collectors, the lame... Jesus sought out these people and redeemed them and made them more than 'OK' for His glory. All of us are respected, 'sought out' and can all be redeemed.
Jesus defined loyalty. He was loyal to God's will for his life here on earth; he was loyal to Peter who denied him three times. It's one thing to be loyal to your calling and to 'stick it out', but to be loyal to those that are anything BUT loyal to you? How many of us would 'stick that out'? He's a loyal lover of our souls and our hearts. He is the ultimate Valentine.
True compassion - being 'for' people that everyone else is against; loving and caring for people that no one else wants to; doing more or giving more than what is asked - loving us enough to give us what we need, not just what we want. Jesus IS all of these. Healing on the Sabbath (such a big "religious No No" then); not just healing the physical person, but forgiving sins (healing the heart and the God-person relationship) too. His compassion isn't just in word, but in deed - he lives compassion.
Must be a good listener... What defines a good listener? Is it just someone to 'hear' all of the stuff we have to say? Is it someone who listens and tries to fix everything? Jesus' version of 'good listening' was patient and patient and patient. :) It didn't matter who it was (see 'Respect' above), he listened attentively and responded patiently. Consider the rulers trying to find fault in him or his disciples learning what it really meant to follow him or just those that cried out in utter and extreme need. He listened to them all with patience and love and then practiced compassion in each response. Good listener, check.
Deep love means caring confrontation. What? Don't we all want someone who loves us so much that they'll lovingly challenge choices we are making? But not just point them out and  sit back condescendingly - someone that will help us see the goofs; that will help us overcome those mistakes and help us the next time it comes up. Love that wants to see us succeed - that wants us to live life 'more abundantly'. Jesus is the only one who can love us like that.
And when we realize that we've made one of those bad choices; when we've misstepped for the umpteenth time - we need forgiveness. More importantly, forgiveness is available - Jesus is forgiveness. His forgiveness is permanent - we repent (confess it and turn away from what we did before) and he forgives. Forever. Forever forgiveness; that's what Jesus offers.
And lastly, 'knows how to celebrate the good in life'! Wow, this one's particularly exciting because God created celebration! So, who better than Jesus to know how to celebrate?! He celebrated with us on earth at weddings; he told stories of celebration - the wedding feast - the prodigal son's return home and more. He knows our hearts, um he MADE them to look like his, and he knows the joy we experience in celebrating the once lost and now found, or of joining two hearts in a wedding celebration. Hmmm, funny, right? I was lost and was found by Jesus - my heart will finally be joined for eternity with his at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
All this to say, that  Jesus, the perfect Valentine, possesses all of these characteristics and more. And he loves you! What better Valentine is there to have, than Jesus!

John 1:17, NLT
For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.