“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
I hope you have a happy Galentine’s Day this Feb. 13.
The importance of friends
Not familiar with the holiday? Then you probably need a friend like Leslie Knope, the always positive, effervescent, non-stop bundle of energy character at the center of the comedy TV show Parks and Recreation. Leslie is always looking for ways to brighten the days of coworkers and friends while slogging through her mid-level management position in local government. So it’s probably no surprise she invented a new holiday on the eve of Valentine’s Day to gather her lady friends together to celebrate the bonds of female friendship apart from husbands and boyfriends.
You don’t have to dismiss Valentine’s Day to celebrate cherished friendships. It’s not necessary to feel scorned or jilted to avoid some of the sentimental ceremonies associated with Feb. 14. You need friends. You need that friend who will consistently be there whether romance is on fire or fizzling. You can be a friend for someone in your life who hasn’t found that special someone or does not feel the need to get hitched. Having someone you can turn to is so important in this age of remote work and virtual school. Being someone your friends can lean on can be a huge blessing in times of stress or joy.
The facts of God’s love
God’s people, however, can celebrate something bigger. Even our best and most cherished relationships point us to the deeper love of a more lasting relationship.
You have a friend who put everything on the line for you. Just before he experienced interrogation and execution, Jesus taught his disciples about his love for them: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). When you feel isolated or alone, God reaches down into your hurt with the presence of his Son. When you have been let down by the people you care about the most, you have God’s unfailing love.
Feelings in any friendship will surge and recede. Actions of friends will sometimes leave you in the lurch. But when your feelings leave you uncertain about your relationship with God, let the facts speak clearly. God put his love in action. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The certainty of God’s love for you in Jesus is as rock-solid as Golgotha.
The certainty of God’s love for you in Jesus is as rock-solid as Golgotha.
In his final thesis of the Heidelberg Disputation, Martin Luther makes this simple, yet profound observation: “The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.” You don’t have a relationship with God because of what you can do for him. God has intense feelings for you because he chose to pour out his love into your life.
God’s love for you allows you to inject something meaningful into your relationships. You could follow the lead of Leslie Knope and take your friends out for waffles or compose personalized 5,000-word essays of why they are awesome. You can also share the truths about the One who cares about your friends more than anyone else. You can help them focus on God’s love for them.
However you choose to celebrate your cherished relationships, may they all point you to the fact of God’s infinite love for you.
Author: Jeffrey Enderle
Volume 109, Number 02
Issue: February 2022