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Love Unlimited

“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 5:5 

Valentine’s Day fills the world with love.  Cupid’s wings flutter everywhere you look; roses in a rainbow of colors, chocolates, chocolate flowers, chocolate strawberries, extravagant cards, email messages, engagement rings.  It’s a beautiful time of the year.  Love songs make their way over the airwaves: I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston; Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley; My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion; Endless Love,  Lionel Richie & Diana Ross, and more. But, let’s not get carried away. Human love seems so fickle, so easily manipulated.  Romantic love flashes its brilliance, drowns us in saccharine sweetness, suffocates us in flowery prose, and then disappears, leaving only perfumed air in its wake. 

The unfortunate thing about western culture is that many of these expressions of love that float around are untested, untried hyperboles. Some may even be desperate attempts to put Band-Aids on shattered relationships.  Still, we don’t want to upset the proverbial applecart.  We want to believe that it is all true, that the rapturous words in the Hallmark card come from the heart, rather than a wordsmith somewhere churning out poems for money.  But I do know a love that never fails.  It’s called divine love, God’s love, agape love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.  

Love must never be taken at one’s word.  It is too important, too dangerous of a concept, too powerful to be embraced without convincing proof that it is genuine.  Think, for example, of the intoxicating power of the symbols of love:  A dozen roses; an engagement ring; the simple expression of “I love you.”  These expressions can release the totality of a person’s emotions.  That’s why it is important to bring love into scrutiny to see whether it is real. “The proof of your love.” 2 Corinthians 8:24

Love is the most powerful of all human emotions.  It will make you do what you had not planned to do.  It makes you go into debt.  It makes you give up freedom. 

Love Lifts You Up.  It will lift you into a higher realm than you have ever lived.  There is no higher virtue than love.  There is no greater attribute of God than love. 

Love Changes You.  It will make you become what you have never been before.  Love does not happen in a vacuum.  You will be changed by what or who you love.  Hence, this warning: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15.   

But the question persists about the limits of love.  How far will it stretch?  To whom will it extend?  Where is your love’s cutoff point?  If love is limited to people you know, it is not big enough.  If your love is limited to your family, it is not big enough.  If your love cuts out people you don’t understand, it is too limited.  If your love leaves out people you think are strange, it is too limited.  If you cannot love the person who has sinned too much, your love is too limited.  

“[Jesus] went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table.  Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume.” Luke 7:36-50. (MSG) Judas claimed love for himself but denied it to her.  Would your love be too limited for this woman?  How is it then, that Christ’s love reached you?  Remove the limits. 

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