Good morning, happy Friday, and blessings.
Today’s Gospel (John 15:12-17) give us a powerful message; When we face a crisis, we, as the body of Christ are mandated to show love for one another, love, not just in word, but in action.
These are tough times. Many are quarantined at home. Many are struggling to get by. Many are unable to get to the store to buy need supplies. Many are hurting and unable to receive comfort because of physical distancing. Many are scared and have diseases and other health issues. They wonder what will happen next. It is time like this we are called to care for one another with solidarity love. The sad thing is that we should have been doing all these things all along. Yes, we are all in this together. As the body of Christ, what affects one, should affect us all.
Jesus clearly said: this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. The simple command is to love one another. However, the love the passage describe here is agape. Agape could be defined as charity. However, we often think of charity nowadays as giving away money or things, which doesn’t encompass all of what agape is about. Agape love is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. It is a self-sacrificing love; a love that expects nothing back in return; a godly type of love. It is with agape that we are to love one another. This is the type of love the Bible speaks about the most. The New Testament references agape over 200 times.
In all this a series of questions that challenge the quality of our discipleship arise: Do we really love one another. How are we showing it? Are we loving others like Jesus loves us? We have His example given for us in His Word. The word tells us to love in deed and in truth. We are to do the practical things for one another. Yes, give our very lives if need be, but in the meanwhile, give of our time and resources. How much are we willing to sacrifice for those in need?
Agape love is based upon a matter of the “will” rather than of “feeling,“ as demonstrated by our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:44-48, where He teaches that we must love even those folks we dislike and are unlikeable. Agape love is the basic element in being Christ-like. In addition, in this agape love we need to help others, not for reward, but because it is the right thing to do. Remember a basis definition for agape is to love with any expectation of anything in return.
There are many examples of agape love (folks loving the unlovable) in the Bible. Two examples are (1) Joseph’s kindness to his brothers (Genesis 50:15-21) even though they sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:15-28), and (2) David’s strained relationship with Saul. David had several opportunities of killing Saul, but instead showed kindness to him (1 Samuel 24:16-19). In the agape love that Jesus asks of us there can be no resentment or revenge for those who despise us. On the contrary, one must look for ways to bring vengeful people to conviction, repentance, and change.
Jesus demonstrated true agape love when He willingly died for the unlovable (Romans 5:1-10). As followers of Christ, we are to love the unlovable as well.