I'm glad to say that after eight and a half years of marriage and eleven and a half years together I still feel emotionally happy when Erin and I are together. My heart truly is full of affection and gratitude when I say to her and she says to me, "I love you."
Love is most certainly part of what it means to live the best life possible. But isn't it funny that Jesus is never reported to have spoken the words "I love you"? In his instructions to his disciples he does say, "love each other as I have loved you," and three times he asked his disciple Peter, "Do you love me?;" but the closest Jesus came to saying those three words were when he said things like, "your sins [failures to love] are forgiven,"(Lk. 5:20) and "I am with you always." (Mt. 28:20)
Jesus showed his love by healing people who were sick, diseased, blind, deaf, and paralyzed. Jesus showed his love by welcoming people who were poor, marginalized, and oppressed. Jesus showed his love by his steadfast commitment to non-violence and compassion even for those who persecuted him, and he showed his love by extending mercy to those who betrayed, denied, and abandoned him.
I think that in writing his letter to the Corinthian church Paul was thinking of the example of Jesus when Paul wrote:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
In my desire to live the best life possible; as I seek to live a life that is rooted in relationship with God and given in service to others I want to be all about God's love. For God's sake, (using a little trick I learned 8 years ago from a friend named Denny), I want others to be able to say of me:
Rich is patient and kind. Rich is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Rich does not demand his own way. Rich is not irritable, and he keeps no record of being wronged. Rich does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Rich never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I think that "insert your name here [in place of love]" is an interpretation of Paul's letter that Paul himself would appreciate.
Some days I do alright, and other days I fail miserably; but I do believe this is God's vision for the love we are to share.To fall short of God's standard of love is to sin, and I celebrate that one of the primary ways I see Jesus expressing love is to say, "your sins [failures to love] are forgiven."
I hope this Valentines day (and for that matter every day) affords each of us plenty of opportunities to be patient, kind, and everything else that God's love is.