Pastor's Column - February 26, 2014

Create an atmosphere to experience love

Many across our nation and countless around the world, celebrated Valentine's Day two weeks ago. They thought of romantic gestures and searched for the perfect gifts to express their heartfelt love. Now that Valentine's Day is gone and the perfect gift is collecting dust, is there any love in the air? We are living in a time when true love is extremely rare. Therefore, whenever we get a chance to celebrate love of any kind we should seize the opportunity.
The fact that love is disappearing from our society should not come as a surprise. It was over two thousand years ago that Jesus talked to his disciples and gave them this prophesy - "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places". He went on to say, "...and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
What is so ironic about love fading from our society is everyone is still seeking love. Sadly, however, they're looking in all the wrong places. They're searching for love in sex, in drugs, in gangs, and in the approval of others. However, if you're going to be able to give or receive love, you must first go to the source of love - God.
The topic of God's love is difficult to tackle because the love of God is incomprehensible to our finite minds. That's why the Apostle Paul challenged us to seek to know the unknowable. He said, "...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."
A great place to start in our quest to know the love of God is John 3:16. This verse is the epitome of God's love. It says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This one passage expresses many truths about God's love.
Truth one: it gives. The verse says "God so loved the world he gave." Our society has become so self-centered that marriages and relationships are falling apart because many are complaining about the love they are receiving, yet they are not giving any love. The bible says, "Whatsoever you reap you shall sow." If those who want to receive love would sow love, they would reap love.
Truth two: it is sacrificial. He gave his son to hang on Calvary's cross. Most of us want to experience true love but we want to forego the sacrifice. Nevertheless, true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything about what I can do for you.
Truth three: it gave what we needed. He gave his Son so we wouldn't perish. The world needed a savior and that's what He gave. Many of our relationships are failing because we give people the love we want to give instead of the love they need. If we are only giving what we want to give, are we really giving anything at all?
Beginning today, let's examine our love walk and start to emulate how God loves. Only then will we see many of the relationships in our lives transformed and begin to experience the love we so desperately desire.
Rev. Phillip Thomas is the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Barnwell.