“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36 -39
Success in life is often measured in terms of how much and how many. I believe it’s better to measure in terms of relationships and how much love exists. Keith Tonkel
I have had severe writer’s block this week. Sometimes it just happens. I am prone to overthink and to tie myself in knots if the words don’t flow. It occurred to me in the middle of last night that this letter is not the State of the Union Address. So, here goes. Writing about love should not be so difficult, but it has been this week.
Valentine’s Day is upon us—a very big birthday for me this year and also a very big birthday for my namesake, Mari Wilton Bailey. She turns three. I turn older than dirt. She has asked for a pink dinosaur cake. I don’t get birthday cakes anymore. I will just eat a piece of hers.
Every year the experts who report to us on the peculiar details of America’s pop culture tell us the dollar amount we shell out in the name of love. Last year, the International Business Times reported Americans spent $18.9 BILLION dollars on chocolates, gifts, greeting cards, and dining out! In spite of that astronomical sum, I don’t think we, as a people, do relationships particularly well here in 2016.
Exhibit “A” is our present Presidential race. The rhetoric is beyond cynical—it is downright mean! Exhibit “B” is reality television where contestants tear each other apart as they vie for the affection of a young, handsome, incredibly fit bachelor who is much more interested in his own appetite than looking out for the best interests of the eligible young ladies. We have arrived in an age where almost anything goes except those old-fashioned virtues our mamas and daddies did their best to pour into us!
Today‘s news reminds me of the verse in Judges 17:6 (ESV), “…Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Try studying the history of God’s chosen people during the time of the Judges. If I had been tasked with choosing what to include and what to exclude from the Biblical Canon, I probably would have left out those 365 years altogether! Yet, the secular voices still tell us 3000 years later to live our lives for ourselves.
It doesn’t work—that is, it doesn’t work if you are hoping for some happiness along the way.
It is the entire purpose for every Believer’s life—to love God and to love others right there in the place God placed you. As I heard a pastor say on a podcast this morning, “Don’t you think every sector of our society could use a little more Jesus?” And if we loved like Jesus in our homes, in our churches, in our workplace—if we could just get over ourselves and really see the hurts and hearts around us, and consider asking Jesus to give us His real love so that we might spread that brand of love all around our little worlds, then maybe we could all live in a kinder, gentler space.
For a few of the best Jesus-style love stories you will ever read, turn the page and get started. There is love between unlikely people everywhere in this issue—imperfect people loving other imperfect people with the perfect love of our Lord Christ.
Oh, and there is usually a big dividend called peace that follows that Jesus kind of love.
Love and Hugs from Mississippi Christian Living to you this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy!