Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
-1 John 4:7-12 (NRSV)
Today is the day! Lovers and friends around the nation will be expressing their love for one another through gifts and acts of kindness. Some have prepared for weeks, while yet others will be standing in the card aisle, on their way home from work, finding that perfect card and box of candy or bouquet of flowers amongst the picked-over remains. This will be Valentine's Day number 27 for Heather and me. I must confess, I have been both of those people above! Somehow, in the midst of flowers and candy (and last minute cards!), our relationship continues to flourish.
I am no marriage expert or relationship guru, but I have learned at least two things about healthy, loving relationships - romantic or otherwise. One - healthy, loving relationships flourish when people create space for one another; and two - healthy, loving relationships are interdependent relationships. Furthermore, these two aspects are most clearly expressed in God's relationship with creation; sustaining our ability to experience such relationships among our brothers and sisters in Christ.
First, as John so clearly states in 1 John, "God is love." It seems that for John the two fullest expressions of God's love are (1) the genesis of creation; and (2) new creation in Christ. In God's act of creation, God was making space for new life to flourish. In the midst of chaos, God made space for new life. Not only did God create space for new life, but God also sustained this new life. God continues to create space for new life, for creation to flourish in its own diverse, beautiful way. God does not demand conformity; and God continues to sustain new life. In you. In me. In all of creation. Do your relationships create space for new life - for others to flourish in their own unique way?
Second, John continues, "If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us." God, and each of God's children, is uniquely its own existence, but true love exists when these unique entities enter into an interdependent relationship. Not independent. Not dependent. Interdependent. Independence is isolation. Dependence is dominance. Interdependence is relational. Creative. Life-giving. Love. God is longing for a relationship with each and every one of us. When we enter into an interdependent relationship with God and one another, we participate in the life of something that is grander than we could ever be on our own. We participate in life with the Triune God: Creator, Christ, Spirit. Do your relationships encourage participation in something more grand, more loving for all involved?
Friends, certainly do something kind and loving for others this day. Share a token of life, love, and laughter with someone. Encourage relationships that create space for one another to flourish and something even more grand to grow!