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Verona in Love

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

One of the things for which our city of Verona is known is having been the setting for Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet about the love between two Italian youths from feuding families. The city uses this connection to its advantage during the week surrounding Valentine’s Day, attracting visitors not only to Juliet’s balcony, but to the various markets of local handicrafts, shops and restaurants. This event is called “Verona in Love.”

Our desire is that Verona be transformed by the love of Christ! An infinitely greater tragedy than the doomed romance imagined by the English Bard, is the complete indifference among the people of Verona to the fact that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is beyond the scope of this article to explore the possible sources of such indifference but one contributing factor could perhaps be that the predominant religion in our city presents the Virgin Mary and the “saints” as more sympathetic to the sinner than Christ himself. In fact, I believe for many today Christ has been reduced in their minds to an idea to be considered rather than a Person to be known.

How might we see our city transformed by the love of Christ? I certainly do not want to minimize the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization, in that it is he that “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment,” nor do I want to neglect the importance of doctrine, for “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” However, as I consider my role as an “ambassador for Christ,” I believe it is essential not to regard the gospel as merely a collection of dry doctrines or a set of abstract principles to be shared, but rather as an introduction to a glorious, personal Friend of sinners.

As Christians, we must keep in the forefront of our minds as an ever-present truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is an actual, living Person, and not only must we deal with him as such but we must introduce him as such to those that would be saved. In his book Holiness J.C. Ryle writes:

I fear the personality of our Lord is sadly lost sight of by many professors in the present day. Their talk is more about salvation than about the Saviour – more about redemption than about the Redeemer – more about justification than about Jesus – more about Christ’s work than about Christ’s person. This a great fault, and one that fully accounts for the dry and sapless character of the religion of many professors.

Ryle goes on to say that the apostles did not go about the world telling men of love, and mercy, and pardon, in the abstract. Rather, the leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ! I don’t believe Ryle was remotely suggesting that we compromise sound doctrine or neglect to tell people the facts relating to salvation. However, love is personal and we must always remember that we are introducing others to the Person we see in the Gospels and know through experience; the One who is the most loving and sympathizing of friends as well as the one and only all-sufficient Saviour; the One who transforms us by his love.

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