Archive for October 3rd, 2012

“And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ ‘This is the great and foremost commandment.’ ‘The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’

Matthew 22:37-40

Αγαπη, Such a simple word from a relatively simple language.  How much God has packed into these 5 Greek letters! (Ok for the Greek scholars out there most of the forms actually used in Scripture have more than 5 letters).  Quick numbers that I picked up from various sources show that AGAPE and its forms are used over 200 times in the New Testament.  Of course the Old Testament was not written in Greek but when they translated the Septuagint (probably 3rd century) they used this word over 300 times.  There have been uncountable numbers of sermons, teachings, devotionals and studies done on this word.  It is featured prominently in the names of churches, ministries, books, articles and music.  One would think that with its great prevalence in the literature and arts of the Christian world that it would be something that we do well… or not.

Many have tried to define this word.  I am not sure that it is even possible in any human language.  Where our words fail us Scripture provides us clues:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.”  John 3:16-17

“But God demonstrates his own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

I could go on over 200 times and then start on the Old Testament references but I think that you get the idea.  With so many teachings out there on this subject my purpose is not to create a new word study here.  Perhaps it is just to refocus myself on an aspect of our Faith that is so key to the ministry that God has called me too.  So I just want to pick out a couple of things that stand out to me.

Agape involves being called and being sent.  Over and over the Love story that is our Scripture tells us of God calling people out of their comfort zones to be his hands and feet of Love.  Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, The Disciples and Paul were all called out of their own lives and comfort zones in order to experience and to exhibit this quality.

Agape involves sacrifice.

“1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:1-8

Thirdly, AGAPE involves obedience to the one true source of love in the created realm, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

“If you love me you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

“If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”  John 15:10

While these three aspects certainly are not an all encompassing examination of AGAPE, they are certainly a great place to start.

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