Pastor John mentioned something he heard this morning, and I looked it up. There is a new Seattle startup that is about to launch. It is offering a way for couples to gamble on whether or not they have found true love. According to www.swanluv.com, a couple can apply to receive up to $10,000 towards a dream wedding. If you live happily after ever, then you do not have to pay it back. But if you end up getting divorced, then you must pay back the original amount plus interest. SwanLuv’s CEO, Scott Avy says He doesn’t hope any marriage ends up in divorce, but those who divorce will pay for those who stay married. He said it is like a casino for marriage, where people can gamble on themselves. Interestingly it seems quite a few couples are already signing up for it.
Hmm… gamble on love. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked, but what a cynical, yet realistic look at love and marriage in our culture today. Oh… I should also mention it is a potentially profitable one as well. They aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts; they expect to make some money off of failed marriages (and sadly the statistics for failed marriages in America are in their favor). How many people do you know expressed their undying love in a wedding vow one day, only to see their love die? What would you have bet on their chances of staying married? Maybe it was you.
I do not gamble at all with money, and I would never, ever advocate that anyone do so. But… let me ask for argument’s sake; what would you bet on love? If marriage could be distilled into one word, once concept that defined it, I would argue that the word would be “love”. Some of you might be thinking of other terms or words, but I would challenge you… What does love mean? What is its true definition, and who or what defines it?
A couple of Sunday’s ago I taught on the subject of love. This coming Sunday I am going to teach on Authentic Love. The Apostle John spends a lot of time in his Gospel and in his letters, speaking about and giving us a picture of authentic love. It is worth studying, it is worth practicing, and it is the real deal. The Bible teaches us that among other things, God is holy, righteous, and cannot look upon sin; but in 1 John 4:8 & 16 Scripture tells us that “God is love”. You need to know that all of God’s attributes are completely compatible. So… What is love? How is love defined? What does it mean? What does it look like? How can I know it? God. Yes… God. The One who is love (along with all the other things God is, in complete harmony).
While you might see God in your mate, or your friend, or the kindness of a stranger, and while you might actually and accurately express real love from time to time; it is God who defines love. Not friends or buddies, not our culture, not our media, or the latest talk show sensation. God defines love, and is love. And we will only understand true, authentic love, when we choose to know and follow God with all of our hearts. For God so loved the world that He gave us… Jesus. In Jesus we see personified things like sacrifice, humility, commitment, patience (or long-suffering), mercy, and grace. And all of these are part of authentic love.
If what you call “love” does not embody sacrifice, humility, commitment, patience (or long-suffering), mercy, and grace, then I would certainly not gamble that you truly love or even understand love. But then God isn’t really asking anyone to gamble on love; He’s asking you to believe and follow Him. The one who is love will not only teach you about love, He will help you love as He loves you, and loves others through you. And that brings up another wonderful attribute about authentic love, it embodies hope. There is hope for authentic love! Now that’s something I could bet on… I mean believe in :-)
Speaking of love; Jean and I are praying that each and every one of you has a most Merry Christmas and a very blessed new year. I pray you will take some time to pause a bit, catch your breath, and focus your heart on the Christ of Christmas. During your time out and about, you will encounter people who will say stuff like “Happy Holidays”. Most have been told they can no longer say “Merry Christmas”, as that might offend people. Rather than get all “Bah-Humbug”, please choose instead to be merry and kind, and loving. Let them see the love of God in you. Who knows, your love may help them to receive the most awesome of gifts imaginable, eternal life. Now that’s a merry thought! Hope to see you Sunday, and coming up at our Christmas Eve service. If I don’t get a chance to say so, I pray your holiday traveling will be safe and fun. And I do love you; for real!