I remember the excitement I felt as a young child when Valentine’s Day drew near. I chose my cards carefully, especially the one I was going to give to the boy I admired most. It had to be funny, not sentimental, and not mean-funny either. When all the valentines were passed out, I would secretly watch to see his reaction to my card. Love was an embarrassment and a mystery to me. I was just learning to love.
The Bible is full of many kinds of love stories. There is love of wife or husband, love of best friends, and the love of parents. Some stories are noble as the story of the love between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, or of David and his friend, Jonathan. Some of the stories are examples of the wrong kind of love, like the love that King David had for Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband. There is the story of betrayed love as in Samson and Delilah. Other stories are of love-gone-wrong: Jacob worked seven years to win Laban’s daughter, Rachel and was tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah. There is also the tragic tale of unrequited love between the prophet Hosea and the prostitute, Gomer.
“Love makes the world go round” according to the popular song, and it would seem so when you consider the plethora of poems and songs written about it. Even in the Bible, there is the passionate “Song of Solomon”. Then there are psalms, songs of love and devotion of a different kind – the love of God.
The entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is a book about the great eternal love of God for humankind – regardless of how fickle, how unreliable, how unworthy and how uninterested the object of adoration might be. The Bible is a love letter from Genesis to Revelation, a love letter often ignored, slandered, left unopened, sometimes even ending up in a garage sale or dumpster.
Where do you keep the love letters from your spouse or sweetheart that you cherish? Close at hand I expect, probably in a special box or a locked drawer of your bureau or in your night table. Don’t you take those letters out from time to time to read them and remind yourself f that special person’s feelings and promises? How would you feel if your letters to that love were never opened, not cherished and possibly tossed away? It would likely break your heart- you would be devastated.
Yet, maybe the Bible lies on the coffee table or in the bookcase, beautifully bound, perhaps with colourful pictures, and not even the first page is creased. Or is the cover tattered and the pages almost falling out, underlined, highlighted , written in and dog-eared. Such a book is well-read, well-loved and even memorized. It might look in poor shape, but its contents, its words are treasured. Those words tell of a love so true it has no precedent and no end, even if it is continuously rejected.
Paul’s description of true love to the church in Corinth aptly describes God’s love for us.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…and now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
All these aspects of God’s love for humankind – his creation- are demonstrated over and over again in the Bible, from the Garden of Eden to the visions of Revelation. One need look no further than John 3:16 for the greatest proof of God’s desire to woo us and win our devotion.
“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Love like that deserves to be treasured. Words like that should be memorized. The Bible is a love letter that deserves our passionate and devoted response.