In 1965, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote the popular song, What the World Needs Now is Love. More than 100 artists—including Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis and Luther Vandross—have since recorded or performed the song, which has been featured in movies and on television. The memorable first lines are:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

If you didn't know already, this Thursday is Valentine's Day (men, you can thank me later!). February 14 is a day to celebrate love and loved ones. Cards and love letters will be written and given away, flowers and chocolates will be presented to sweethearts and candlelit dinners will be shared.

The Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing.” For example, I love my wife and children, my family and friends. But I'd say I have a fondness for the NFL, books and movies.

There are three main Greek words we translate as love: eros, phileo and agape. Eros is an erotic or sexual love. Phileo denotes brotherly love, or a love shared by friends. But agape is the ultimate type of love. It is a living love. It is a love that loves others more than itself. It is a love full of charity, mercy, and grace.

Agape is the type of love God shows to us. We read from the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV). This is a love that truly lasts “… his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1 NIV). God demonstrated his love through the ultimate sacrifice. Through Jesus, salvation is available for every child, woman and man.

Jesus displayed agape love throughout his life and ministry. The Gospels are full of passages and stories where Jesus showed this love to his disciples, as he taught and led them; to children when he welcomed and embraced them; to the woman at the well in John 4; and to the woman caught in adultery in John 8.

As you commemorate Valentine's Day, remember to celebrate the agape love we have in our Saviour.

Captains Mark and Nancy Braye are the corps officers of Temiskaming Community Church in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. They have two children, Hannah and Micah.

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