Inter-Community Church of God
February 14, 2021 Service
      • Psalm 50:1–6HCSB

  • The Image of Unquenchable Love

    “Valentine’s Day is for Amateurs”

    Valentine’s day is my day off. —Don Wallace

    Solomon’s Love Story

    The Song of Solomon is a book of deeply erotic and romantic poetry that is a long conversation between a man, the Prince Solomon, and a woman. They are totally infatuated with one another. . . .
    This book is in the Bible, following the book of Proverbs where Solomon tells the young men to gain wisdom and don’t waste your lives in the arms of a harlot. The Christian church didn’t know what to do this book, and tried to ignore the erotic and romantic themes in it, instead re-interpreting it as the love that God has for his church.
    >>>Quite honestly, I’m not buying that. Because, on this Valentine’s Day 2021, I want you to know that...

    Romantic Love is a Biblical Reality

    As I said, the Song of Solomon, sometimes called the Song of Songs, is Hebrew romantic literature. It is poetic and powerful in its depictions. The book is written almost like a drama, with the push and pull of circumstance that is always trying separate the two lovers.
    >>>Then, near the end, we have some words that tell us why we celebrate love in our own lives. The lovers are finally together, not wanting to let go, and one says to the other,
    Song of Solomon 8:6 ESV
    6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.
    The seal or signet ring was the ancient signature of the one it belonged to. The seal was a cylinder carved out of some semi-precious stone, such as jade or turquoise, that was unique to the one who owned it. It was more valuable than a credit card. To take another’s seal was the ultimate in identity theft.
    So the owner of the seal treated it as precious. It was worn around the neck on a cord of leather so it could be removed and rolled in the wet clay of a contract written on a wet clay tablet as the signature of the owner.
    This image of “Set me as a seal upon your heart” is saying to keep the loved one close and precious. Make it known that your lover is yours. Make it permanent.
    Don’t scorn love or treat it as something of low value. Love is the transaction of the heart. And a true, romantic and giving love is “strong as death” Solomon writes. This is using language any teen can relate to, and all the songs of my era talked about, to say “I think I’m gonna die if you ever tell me we’re through.”
    The dark side of romantic love is here too: Jealousy (or passion in some translations) is as fierce (or unrelenting) as the grave. A Hebrew poetic couplet is used to reinforce the thought of loves power being as inevitable as death, and love’s passion as unavoidable as the grave.
    The sparks of love are spoken of the same way, in the most superlative way that the author knew, to say the sparks of love are a fire of God in our hearts.
    >>>Like I said, this is romantic and often erotic poetry. Love is likely to go to excesses, for love will not give up. But it also makes unbalanced love rather dangerous.

    Romance, On Its Own, Doesn’t Last

    Love may be strong as death and passion as unrelenting as the grave, but that means too that without sustaining actions love will devolve into a violent jealousy or disappear like the melting snow if there is not attention given to its care and feeding.
    There is no way that any human can keep up the pace of the kind of heart-tugging, infatuated and selfish kind of love that feels so strong and behaves so badly and starts its own fires.
    >>>That image of fire from the end of verse 6 is expanded in the first part of verse 7, which tells us that the fire of ...

    Love is Unquenchable

    Song of Solomon 8:7a ESV
    7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
    It doesn’t matter what torrents rage or what floods come, the circumstances of life, still the fire of a true love can’t be put out. As long as the spark is there at least. This unquenchable love can really be applied to the kind of love that God has for his people.
    Read through the Old Testament, and you will find that God’s people were anything but faithful to him. So he gave them his laws, trying to keep their hearts in line. But that didn’t work.
    He gave them a prophet and a leader. But that didn’t work. He gave them chance after chance after chance to straighten up and fly right, but they wouldn’t, But God wouldn’t let go. He wouldn’t back off. He kept stalking his unfaithful people no matter how they scorned him.
    God’s love is unquenchable. You can’t put it out. And finally, his love brought forth his son Jesus, who would give himself away for the sins of everyone that has ever , or is now, rejecting him.
    Until, finally, he does the ultimate stalk for an unseen God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us...
    For God so loved the world that he gave… This is of course why Jesus was born, and why we can trust this totally out-of-mind love that God has even for a sinful world.

    The Folly of Trying to Bribe for Love

    When I was in Jr High, the Beatles invaded America, or so it was said later, and besides such deep lyrics as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, there was another song they sang, “Can’t Buy Me Love”. I didn’t know it at the time, but that is a Biblical theme here in the Song of Solomon. Look at the end of verse 7:
    Song of Solomon 8:7b ESV
    7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
    Love is not for sale. You can’t buy love, even if you sell everything you have and look like a fool because of it. Love is about giving, not about getting. Love is not the pearl of great price, although the woman that God gave me is one of those pearls. But it was a gift, not a purchase. Bobbi is a gift to me that I could never afford, and too precious to ever let go.

    Practicing Love that Builds Up

    Love is not only for the romantics
    Colossians 3:12–13 ESV
    12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
    Colossians 3:14–15 ESV
    14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

    Loving for the Long Haul

    Getting It Right

    Colossians 3:16 ESV
    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
    And we can easily add on the end of a similar paragraph in Ephesians 5:
    Ephesians 5:21 ESV
    21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    When we are loving as members of the Body of Christ, we find the ways that help us to build up the relationship. In Colossians we are told to start with the Word of Christ, as it dwells in you richly.
    Paul said “the word of Christ,” he did not say his own words. Paul’s words are a part of the canon of Scripture for Christians, which means that over the centuries the church has seen that God’s teaching is coming through the personality of the writer. But don’t confuse the word of Christ and the words of an inspired man.
    When we are filled with Christ, we have what we need to be teachers and correctors, encouragers and leaders of one another. That is wisdom applied, as Colossians 3:16 teaches us, and it goes on to say that we can do this through song: Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
    Did you ever see the NBC TV Series “Zoey’s Incredible Playlist”? Zoey wakes up one day and she suddenly starts to hear singing. The singing comes from people on the street, people in her family, people at her work, people in her relationships. And what is happening is that she has been given ears to hear the “heartsong” of other people, which is often different than what they let on, different than the mask that they wear, but very insightful.
    Paul tells his readers to sing to one another.
    Have you ever tried adding a song into the understanding of the relationship you sshare with another in the Body of Christ? Or within your house? The poetic voice, whether said or sung, teaches the desires of the heart.

    Getting it Wrong

    Ephesians 5:22 ESV
    22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
    Colossians 3:18 ESV
    18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
    >>>There is a way to Get it Right. and that is by. . .

    Practicing Love that Builds Up

    Love is not only for the romantics
    Colossians 3:12–13 ESV
    12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
    Colossians 3:14–15 ESV
    14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
    I want you to notice that thankfulness is part of that last verse we read. Because of love that

    Living Out Love

    Living Out Love is based in mutual submission, and practicing the kind of Self-Giving Love that “Binds everything together in perfect harmony” as Colossians 3:14 reminds us. Not lording it over another, but wanting and doing what is best for the one you love, whether in the church, in the family, or sitting in the same room with you day after day after day after day...
    That’s not what it sounds like. Bobbi and I said to one another when we were young, and all our hair was dark (and I had some), our skin was smooth and our joints didn’t complain, that we wanted to love and live with one another until we were old and gray and full of wrinkles.
    I still can’t believe how fast that happened…but that is looking back. We only got here because we made it through every 24-hour day, all 1040 minutes, all 62,400 seconds, or beats of the heart. We did it one day, and the next, and the next, and so on, for nearly 50 years of marriage, with my heart committed to hers for 52 years, according to the amethyst ring she still wears.
    >>>But I didn’t learn love in my household. My home was noisy and abusive and violent, and my parents separated on my 15th birthday. I had to learn love that was modeled for me in the church. It took me a while to get that right. My dad was raised a conservative Christian, so he knew the verses about a wife submitting to her husband, but he really didn’t know these verses:
    Colossians 3:19 ESV
    19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
    In Ephesians this is amplified for us:
    Ephesians 5:25–27 ESV
    25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
    Of course, this applies to any relationship of love: love one another in such a way you erase the blemishes and see the best in the other one.
    But I don’t want to lose the context of this:
    Ephesians 5:21: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:19: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husband
    Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19:Husbands, love your wives.
    Women are invited to submit to their own husbands. Husbands are never told to make them submit. Instead, husbands are told to love their wives into respecting them so they can submit together with you to the yoke of marriage for the long haul.

    Men, Do the Loving.

    Men, do the loving. Most men are hard-wired to be hunters, fixers, and answer-men.
    Most women are hard-wired to do whatever it takes to hold things together for as long as they can, no matter what it takes, no matter what they have to give up, no matter the cost…which sadly leads many into very awful and abusive relationships. Women are often the ones who do all the giving away of self and resources and wants because they are hard-wired to love in a giving way.
    Men are hard-wired to love in a selfish way. The Greeks called this kind of love eros, where we get the term erotic. A lot of romantic love starts this way. But if you never add a love that gives itself away, what the Greeks called agape love, which is the John 3:16-17 love of God, you won’t be a lover. Your “unquenchable love” will look more like a stalker
    Not just the hunting. Not just bringing home the bacon. Not just gathering the stories to tell around the campfire.
    Most women are hardwired to do the hard work it takes, no matter what it takes, to keep a relationship going. The problem is this can often lead women into very awful and abusive relationships, where all the giving away of self and of resources and of personal desires is how a woman acts out love.
    You can see this lived out
    Most men are hard-wired to be hunters, and answer-men.

    Living Out Love As Christians

    Colossians 3:17 ESV
    17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
      • Song of Solomon 8:6ESV

      • Song of Solomon 8:7aESV

      • Song of Solomon 8:7bESV

      • Colossians 3:12–13ESV

      • Colossians 3:14–15ESV

      • Colossians 3:16ESV

      • Ephesians 5:21ESV

      • Ephesians 5:22ESV

      • Colossians 3:18ESV

      • Colossians 3:12–13ESV

      • Colossians 3:14–15ESV

      • Colossians 3:19ESV

      • Ephesians 5:25–27ESV

      • Colossians 3:17ESV

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