Holy Everything: How are you actively modeling God’s love?
Jesus invites us to live in love. It’s a powerful guiding principle to ground all of our relationships — with God, others, creation, and ourselves. But practically speaking, what does he mean? When Jesus encourages us to love God, love our neighbors and even love our enemies, how does he recommend we do that?
In the original versions of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, when Jesus directs people to love, he most often uses the Greek word “agape.”
Digging into a few of agape’s many layers of meaning provides empowering insights to guide our expressions of love in the world. To agape is to:
• regard the welfare of;
• seek the best for;
• be unwilling to abandon.
Author C. S. Lewis describes agape as “a selfless love that is passionately committed to the well-being of others.” Theologian Karl Barth notes that true agape has no expectation of reciprocity; it is compassion with no strings attached.
This special type of love is described in the Gospel of John as the deep regard that God has for the whole cosmos (“for God so loved the world”). It is because of God’s profound regard for the universe that Jesus came to experience existence among humanity. While on the planet, Jesus modeled a love that was oriented toward justice, advocacy, truth-telling, and healing.
The agape love of the Creator always seeks the best for us, perpetually regards our welfare and is unwilling to abandon us.
Agape love is a transformative force in the world. Through the mysteries of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to plant ourselves and our congregations in agape every day.
Jesus predicts in the New Testament that people would come to recognize his followers by their agape love. How are you actively extending love to one another and to the wider community? How is your family of faith? Might there be opportunities to consistently celebrate the ways your congregation members are giving and receiving agape love?
Part of the challenge we face in expanding our embodiment of agape is that we aren’t always sure what it looks like, sounds like and acts like. We need stories; we need examples! Could you include a story in the next monthly newsletter about how a ministry of your congregation is spreading love? Or maybe it could be shared by someone as a special “agape ministry moment” before the offering next Sunday?
Empower the people in your faith community to share examples of how the Spirit of God is transforming your community through the power of agape.
When we live in agape, Jesus says we “are not far from the kingdom of God.” How profound! We get to experience glimpses of heaven/eternal cosmic connectedness/bliss whenever we encounter agape. Thank you, God, for creating us with the capacity to give and receive love. Grant us courage to trust that agape can and does transform the world.