40 Days of Love

October 29th, 2012
This article is featured in the Outreach 2013 (Nov/Dec/Jan 2012-13) issue of Circuit Rider

With February comes hearts, flowers, and chocolate candies galore—a time for couples to celebrate their romance, and for everyone else to roll their eyes and try to resist turning those rose bouquets into potpourri. But what better time than when the world is focused on syrupy-sweet love to celebrate God’s love and the love we are called to show all people?

Our church had not held a weeknight Bible study for several months, and since we were trying to involve both men and women, both church members and others in the community, a study on relationships seemed to “fit the bill.”

We advertised in the community newspaper and on our website, and began the six-week study the first week of February. Alternately, you could start the study in early January and conclude it around Valentine’s Day, in conjunction with a special holiday event. (See “Date Night Outreach,” below.)

One member wondered how we could talk about love for six weeks; yet we did just that and the study was amazing! We used 40 Days of Love: We Were Made for Relationships, a study guide and DVD by Rick Warren, with a companion book of 40 daily readings, The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay. (Visit www.ministrymatters.com/love for more relationship study suggestions!)

The personal and group assignments were a challenge for many of us to complete, due to age, illness, work schedule, etc.—all the normal day-to-day issues that are a reality in everyone’s lives—but it proved to be enriching for all involved, expanding our notions of “love” far beyond our romantic partnerships.

We learned through these assignments that loving others is an action, not just an emotion. We found that to love others on a daily basis, may be a greater sacrifice than a one-time act of love. Many of us found that to love one another as Christ loves us may be the most difficult commandment Christ has given us. We were humbled weekly by each session, realizing how those who we struggle even to be friends with, never mind actually love, may be the ones who need our love the most, whether it be a family member, church family, coworker, or neighbor. They are probably hurting inside more than we can know or imagine.

We were faced with some tough questions: Were we in tune with everyone’s needs or just reacting to the obvious? Were we willing to find out? Were we willing to forgive so we could love? Did we understand forgiveness? Did we have the willingness, the capacity to love? Did we love ourselves enough to be able to love others? Did we love Christ enough to love others?

The fellowship, sharing, and revelations that occurred during this study were a blessing to be a part of. We each came away with a renewed sense of our commitment to be humble, to not judge others, and, above all, to love Christ.


Date Night Outreach

The weekend before Valentine’s Day, offer a much-needed service to your community by providing free child care so busy and cash-strapped parents can have a night out. Offer dinner, crafts, and games for the children, ending with a movie so kids can settle down before parents return. Many local family magazines will include your event on their calendar for free.

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