This Sunday is Valentine’s Day, the unofficial day of romance. This weekend, Americans will spend $19.7 billion on cards, candy, flowers and dinners. According to one source, those that celebrate Valentine’s Day will spend an average of $147 on loved ones, family members, classmates and co-workers. I will be among those who will purchase heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, cards and flowers for my wife and children, though I expect that I will skew the spending average downward. Despite all this commerce, I have a hard time believing that a dozen roses will convey any certainty of undying love or a box of cashew turtles will assure relational bliss. Perhaps there is a better way to show you’re ready to commit to another.
A few weeks ago my daughter asked if we could watch “The Bachelor”, a reality show which chronicles one man’s pursuit of lasting love through his dating and eliminating 28 attractive young women until he proposes marriage to the final bachelorette. At first, I thought that it was ridiculous to find real love through competition, but over the past 6 weeks, I’ve come to see some value in watching: there are a variety of ways which people use to demonstrate their love for another. The interactions that Ben, our eligible bachelor, has had with different women has been enlightening.
- There was one woman, who felt an immediate connection to our Mr. Right, who tried to keep the darker edges of her personality hidden while she interacted with Ben; she couldn’t keep that side of her personality to herself and she went home to work on herself;
- There was another woman, who felt an immediate connection to our Mr. Right, who was confident that she was Ben’s ‘soul-mate’ and turned nasty toward the other contestants; she was wrong and went home while vowing that he was making a mistake;
- There was another woman, not quite sure where she stood, that told lies and made up stories to grant her better standing with Ben; it did not and she was asked to leave soon after her false disclosures;
- There was a bevy of women who began with good intentions who tried to make an impression upon the man they hoped to marry after a dozen weeks of dating with quirky costumes or odd props, but these efforts failed (gratefully, I feel, considering the possible conversation with their alternate-universe progeny: “Your dad and I met on a reality show and he fell in love with me because I wore a giant rose as a hat”).
Granted, I have not watched an entire season of the show…yet. But what I think is missing from the actions and attitudes of these television personalities is seeing love as an act of will, not merely a feeling. I keep watching, hoping one week that one of these dates will show someone selflessly considering the needs of the other above themselves.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We all can celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. Because it falls on a Sunday, we all can go to God’s house and celebrate the relationship of love we have with Him. Sure, He isn’t showering us with candy or flowers, but He is showering us with unconditional and sacrificial love, as witnessed by the cross of Christ. Love isn’t discovered on a television show, but through an empty cross and an empty tomb. This weekend I hope you will remember that God loves you.