14th February of every year is regarded as Valentine’s day and is celebrated in most countries around the world. On this day, people express love to their loved ones especially relationship partners through gifts, wishes, vows, etc. It is also a time when some men pluck up courage and propose to ladies they secretly admire.
I’ve never really looked up the history behind valentine’s day until recently. The history of valentine’s day and the story of its patrons is embedded in mystery. It is widely known that St. Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “Valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl possibly his jailor’s daughter who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine” which is an expression widely used today. Although the truth behind the valentine legends is incoherent, the stories all emphasize his countenance as sympathetic, heroic and most importantly, a heroic figure. (Excerpt from www.history.com).
I believe the greatest act of love in the history of time was shown in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
In this text, God showed love not by words but by giving and not just an ordinary giving but giving his one and only begotten son which is an act of sacrifice. To sacrifice, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else. Or it is the killing of a person or animal in a sacrifice.
The doctrine of Christianity is based on the belief that there is only one true god which is God the father and no one comes to Him except through His son Jesus Christ because he is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
These 2 supreme beings are an embodiment of Love and since Christians believe in these supreme beings the trait of love is expected to manifest in their lives, but is that the case currently? I don’t think so. From my point of view, most Christians are not filled with the love of God but rather a selfish and parochial kind of love.
John 14:6 says for God so loved the world. It didn’t say for God so loved believers or His people or some but the whole world. Meaning His love knew no boundary.
Unfortunately, this sort of love is rare amongst Christians. We love mostly based on family ties, ethnic affiliation, personality, Church affiliation, friendship ties etc. Sometimes, we love with the hope of getting something in return. My mind always comes blank anytime I try to find a cause for this adulterated kind of love that has raised its ugly head among Christians. Could it be that the essence of love has been misconstrued? Or humans trying to be intelligent in their own sight have redefined love to suit their interest.
In John 11, a certain man named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick). Therefore, his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
I was befuddled by this text because Lazarus’s sister anointed Jesus with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair which I think is a great act of love and humility towards Jesus. In addition to this, the Bible said Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. These indicators should be enough to make Jesus leave whatever he was doing immediately and attend to Lazarus but he did not. Is it possible that whatever Jesus who is an embodiment of love was doing equally required his attention just as Lazarus’s case? One can deduce from this incident that Jesus didn’t just love based on deeds or personality but based on the essence of love. Is that what pertains in the church today?
We’ve become so selfish in loving that, we’re insensitive to the plight of others. That’s why you’d see a Christian who has a car with no passenger bypass a fellow Christian on foot to or from church. That’s why a Christian who has a maid in his/her home doesn’t even ask of the maid’s welfare but just barrages him/her with work until the maid breaks down in health.
Hospitals which are supposed to be a place of healing for the sick physically and emotionally sometimes worsens the case of patients. The way some nurses who claim to be Christians talk to patients or handle them makes me wonder whether they have the love of God in them.
Our schools are not left out in this miasma. Recently, a tutor who claimed to be an Apostle in his church told a fellow tutor that he shouldn’t go over a topic if a student says he/she doesn’t understand because it is the responsibility of the student to go and learn further and understand. This to an extent is true but we all have different rates of assimilating and grasping things. Some topics need to be revised repeatedly before a student can understand. I wondered whether this apostle did what he does with love. Jesus was a great teacher and did that with love. That’s why sometimes he spoke in parables and other times he uses simple life stories to teach a lesson. There are times he’s able to discern whether his followers understood what he said or not. My hatred for Mathematics is as a result of a teacher caning me anytime I got a low mark in mathematics. I’ve not been able to develop a love for it till now.
Our churches have now become just like the secular world. I’m even beginning to think that the secular world is even more comfortable than the church. The church has now become rife with hypocrisy, hatred, and unforgiveness. A believer can’t backslide and confide in a fellow believer and ask for help. It’s either the backslider’s situation would become a topical issue amongst church members or the pastor will make a sermon out of it and in the end, the believer would feel bad and shameful in the church. We have become so superficial in our walk with Christ forgetting that we are humans and have the tendency to sin or backslide. (NB: I’m not justifying sin).
There is so much hypocrisy and jealousy in the church. That’s why you’d see choir leaders fighting amongst themselves because one person leads worship more often than the other. A talented instrumentalist wouldn’t want to teach an average instrumentalist how to be good because he’s scared the average instrumentalist might become better than him and take his place in the long run.
Pastors who are supposed to lead by example are the worst culprits. Some have allowed money to corrupt the church. Money has now become a determinant for love from pastors. Some pastors have surrounded themselves with bodyguards who sometimes look like wrestlers that, ordinary church members cannot get access to them. It is only the rich that get access to them. An ordinary person falls sick and it doesn’t get the attention of the pastor but let a rich church member fall sick or some form of tragedy befall them and you’d see how some of these pastors would devote their time on them. I sometimes wonder whether some souls are more precious than others. That is why in some churches, there is a large disconnect between the pastor and most of the church members. But I remember in the Bible Jesus related well with everybody irrespective of class, status, ethnic affiliation, etc.
Love has left the church and this has allowed evil to gain grounds. In the words of Black Eyed Peas, I ask WHERE IS THE LOVE?
I believe when Jesus was speaking of Christians being the salt of the earth and light of the world, he wanted us to use love to achieve this feat. If we really want to touch the world and make an impact, we have to deploy the God kind of love. The only weapon that can conquer evil in this world is Love (Not the selfish, ingratiating and parochial ones we see these days).