Stephanie  Campbell
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Valentines Day is coming. Love, love, love, and more lovemake your date, buy your present, feel lonely if you don’t have a Valentine, sappy cards, and sweet sentiment. Seems like a good time to talk about Love.

The next couple of weeks at Lakeview we will be exploring what it means for us as individuals and the church to be “Love Filled”. Not the sickly sweet Hallmark kind of love, but a love that has teeth in it. Jesus came to make God’s love more available and approachable to all people. Love that lifts, carries, heals, and provides hope, direction, and the power to be the best people (and churches) we can be. What does this love look like?

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 22, that we are to love God above all else and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus’ love was practical, responding to the needs of the people around him, and encouraging them to care for each other as well. This is what that kind of love might look like today:

Love God:

  • Spend time in scripture getting to know Jesus better. If you aren’t sure where to start then read through the gospel of Luke.
  • Pray—ask for what you need, but also talk to God as you would talk to a friend.
  • Meditate – this is how we listen, some will meditate in the quiet of their home and others meditate as they walk. Focus on a positive thought or a scripture verse as you pause to listen for the Spirit.
  • Be Curious—remember falling in love? You had so many questions about the one you loved – you wanted to know everything. Ask your questions. Google them. Take the information that sits right with you, set the rest aside. More will be revealed.
  • Live with Gratitude—take time in your day to thank God for the blessings you have. The more you practice gratitude the more goodness you will experience, because you will be looking for it.

Love your Neighbor:

  • Be Present—lift your eyes and look at people as you move through your day. Many people feel invisible or unloved, just acknowledging them can be a big gift.
  • Be Responsible—take ownership of your mistakes, make them right
  • Be Grateful—thank people honestly and often for the ways they bless your life
  • Check in—ask your friends or family what you can do to make their day better or easier.
  • Listen—take time to really hear the people in your life. Ask questions, engage, show them you are interested in their world.
  • Be patient—pray to see the people around you, especially the ones that are driving you crazy, through God’s eyes.

Love yourself:

  • Be kind—watch the way you talk to yourself. If you are hard on yourself pause and say something positive. You will  accomplish more in your day from a place of self-love
  • Rest when you’re tired
  • Eat healthy nourishing food
  • Take care of yourself when you are sick
  • Ask for help—from big things to little things give yourself permission to ask for what you need.

Often when we talk about Love from the Bible’s point of view it becomes some kind of hyper-spiritual discussion. But Jesus’ love was practical, grounded in the needs of the people he encountered. Simple suggestions like those given above are a great way to make the “love” of February an active, present experience for yourself and the people you encounter each day. What other ideas, suggestions would you add to the list? Have fun with it. BE the heart and hands of Jesus in your world—don’t overthink it—just do it.