Love poured out

Tomorrow is the day after today – as usual of course! Yet, this particular tomorrow for some will be special since it is Valentines Day. Expressions of love will be shared between many. For others it can be a painful day of course.

It is also the beginning of Lent, the period of time running up to Easter – a time for reflection on life and remembering the supreme expression of God’s love in Christ giving his life on the cross.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

Christ, though God, was also fully human. He went through the whole mix of life. He knew joy, fellowship, close family ties, acceptance but also experienced misunderstanding(even from family), rejection, betrayal, false accusation, injustice, loneliness. He knew about grief personally and though we have no explicit evidence one way or the other in the Gospels, it seems that somewhere along the way he lost Joseph as his human father.

However we view Valentines Day, Christ’s love is there for all – amid joy or hurt, celebration or grief. I know that is easy to write, perhaps not always so easy to walk out.  A little bit earlier in Romans 5, we can read these words,

“hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, he has given us” (Romans 5:5)

His love is available. Lent points to the ultimate expression of that love, in Christ sacrificially giving His life. Perhaps that seems a very distant event from life now. May be it seems barbaric for some of our minds. But it is what it took, for the cost of the wrongs of humanity to be dealt with. In Christ reconciliation is made possible – “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” Romans 5:11. Further, His love can be poured into our lives – we can come to Him regularly and ask for this.

Such love and reconciliation is not just for us but for the world around. It is a huge topic of course in terms of how that works out. How does Christ’s love speak into situations like that of some charity workers whose actions have exploited vulnerable women through prostitution, as well as tainted the great work done by others to help those in need ? How does His love touch the ongoing wars, refugee crises and political turmoils that we see in the news?

I cannot begin to really explore that here without this blog becoming really long. Nor do I wish to give any trite suggestions or try and imply there are easy answers.

Yet I encourage us all this Lent period to consider how can the love of Christ impact the world around us? Let’s begin with thinking about our families, friends, neighbourhoods, work or study places. Pray for ways to express the love of Christ to others. As we pray about the news also, let’s ask the Lord to show us how His love can come into such situations and the implications of this in terms of reconciliation, justice and what is right.

As to the three pictures above?

The Valentines card in the middle won’t last forever. Yet God’s love will last and He is faithful – He always has been, always will be. The first photo was taken yesterday afternoon from above Honiton in the UK – it is one of the places that I lived as a teenager. The Lord was faithful then. The third photo was taken this morning a few minutes’ walk from our home here in Leiden. The Lord is still faithful now!

Love poured out, made possible through Jesus Christ!

Andy