"Love, love me do!" "Stop in the name of love!" "Bring me higher love!" Love dominates pop song lyrics and shows us that American culture is in love with the word “love”. A study of the lyrics of the ten most popular songs since the late 1960s has shown that 60% of the songs are devoted to the topics of love and relationships. So, this familiarity with the word "love causes us to overuse and have an unclear understanding of the love of God the Father. Understanding this type of love is critical to our relationship with God. Since Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate romantic love, is approaching, I wanted to share what I learned about the love of God. When God speaks of His love for man, He is using the Greek word, agape. There are four different types of love which are translated “love” in the New Testament. There is romantic love (eros), brotherly love (phileo), parental love (storge), and the love of God - agape (noun) and agapao (verb). As defined in Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary, agape is the deep and constant love interest of a perfect Being toward entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reversal love in them towards the Giver. This love is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familiar bound. Where there is agape love there MUST be giving and giving to the point of sacrifice. It is unrestricted, unrestrained, and unconditional. It is unselfish, self-giving, willfully devoted, and concerned for the welfare of others. This love is divine love that is commanded by God and produced as fruit in the heart of a surrendered believer by the Holy Spirit. Did you catch that? This love is best understood by understanding the price that Jesus paid for each of us. Christ loved us and willingly gave Himself up as an offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). The Father allowed this to happen because of His immense love for us. God’s Word tells us that we must pay a penalty for our sin (Romans 6:23) that involves eternal separation from God and death. But, Jesus came, lived a perfect life and died in our place so that we could have eternal life instead of eternal damnation. Our only part is to believe that Jesus paid the penalty on our behalf and put our faith in Him. We don’t earn this love based on what we do, but based on Who we believe. Additionally, this same word, “agape,” is used to describe the love of God for His Son. He agape loves us so much that He sacrificed His son for us even though we didn’t deserve it and were unworthy of that sacrifice. Do you comprehend the enormity of this? If you do have a relationship with Jesus and have accepted Him as your Savior, then you need to share this love with others. On Valentine’s Day, this is a great opportunity to talk about and share the love of Christ, through the gift of His sacrificial life with others. Over the next three weeks, I’ll be posting about some ideas for how to do this with your family and friends. This week is dedicated to ideas for preschoolers and young children:
Make crayon resist messages on hearts that display the love of God. After secretly writing the message in crayon, give to your kids and have them color over them with one color of marker to reveal the message. Use doilies and the hearts to glue to construction paper or poster board to make a Valentine’s decoration. Here are some ideas of message you can write in crayon:
Love is from God
God is love
If God is for us, who can be against us?
God’s love is steadfast
Jesus loved me and gave Himself up for me
God forgives our sin and delights in steadfast love
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
John 3:16 (and then talk about what that verses says)
Nothing can separate us from God’s love
Abide in God’s love
2. Give your children a hands-on representation that God loves them. Made a card out of construction paper or poster board and decorate the outside of it that says “Who God loves” on the outside. On the inside, glue a piece of mirror that will fit inside the card. You can buy square-shaped mirror at any craft store. When you bring the card out, tell your children that you have something special to share with them. Then, one by one, bring them over to you and ask your children if they want to know who loves them. They should enthusiastically say , "Yes!" When they open the card, they’ll see their own reflection. Then, reinforce the concept by asking them again, “Who does God love?” They should happily answer, “Me!”
3. Read the Bible account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) and brainstorm all the ways we can love strangers. Pick one thing to do this week and look for opportunities to love strangers and have everyone share the next day what they chose to do.
4. Make a 14 day Valentine’s Day countdown using Scripture. You can have your kids color each heart and then decorate a location with the Scriptures. Cut out 14 hearts on white paper and print these Scriptures on them. Have your kids take turn coloring the heart and hanging it in a location where you can all enjoy it. You might even choose to discuss the Scripture to the extent your kids can understand. Suggested Scriptures:
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
1 Corinthians 16:14
1 John 4:16
1 John 4:19
1 Peter 4:8
1 John 4:20
1 Corinthians 2:9
1 John 3:1
How do you point others to the love of God expressed to us in the person of Jesus Christ?