Posts Tagged ‘agape’

The simplicity and power of loving my neighbor as I love myself is staggering. But I don’t do it. I’m not just talking about the people who live next door of course. I mean that more challenging neighbor, the one typified in the parable of the good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-37], possibly even an enemy.

Romans 13:9b-10
You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. Love does no wrong to one’s neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore love meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law.

I know, people roll their eyes when I start talking about the force of love. It all sounds so “cheesy” and “new-agey” or maybe it’s those memories of “flower power” and “free love” from the 60’s. But I keep running into this command as I study the scriptures and I think the repetition is worth noting.

Scot McKnight has it right when he espouses what he has coined the Jesus Creed, that basic tenet captured by Jesus when he was asked by the Pharisees, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” [Matthew 22:35-39]

Is my trouble in my inability to love myself? I know a lot of teaching has turned in on itself and somehow, the emphasis has shifted to loving self. Pretty funny, really. There are folks who can’t seem to get away from it “being all about them.” As though this practice of loving self would teach us to love another. I don’t think so.

Or is the problem in my definitions of love? Certainly Webster’s Dictionary doesn’t help much as there is so much emphasis on romantic and sexual love and that’s not the love that is meant for my neighbor (unless it’s “Housewives of Orange County” or whatever is the new “Peyton Place”).

Truthfully, I know enough about the love of scriptures to practice it if I really wanted to do it. Agape love is the term used here and it’s more sacrificial in nature. Agape love means I must step outside my comfort zone. And in the end, that’s the main reason I don’t practice it regularly. I don’t like being outside my comfort zone.

God forgive me.

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On Love 2

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4-7

So, guess what!? If there’s any doubt about how I am acting or what I am receiving from others, I have a basic checklist right here. If I’m not sure about someone’s “love language” or I’m not sure if the other person has been damaged emotionally, I can start here. No excuses.

If I could just grasp fully the first two! If I could just be patient and kind toward everyone… including my family… and that includes my teenagers! If I can’t get passed patient and kind, how am I going to tackle the more difficult attributes of love like trust, protection, hope & perseverance?

Funny. And then how am I ever going to avoid this great list of what love is “not?” I don’t know. I really don’t know. I am so grateful that there is a God who is showing patience and kindness towards me and not just rolling his eyes!

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On Love 1

So, we’ve arrived at the 8th and last of the “steps” that Peter laid out in II Peter 1:3-11 to build or sustain a person’s faith over time.

I have always appreciated Pastor Craig’s definition of love as “doing what’s best for another person.” This is his definition of how we truly walk out agape love and that is a love whose source is the deepest place of the heart and comes about as a result of a conscious choice to love, not from a feeling.

I also like a book title I remember from my college days, “Love is a Verb.” Very simply, this phrase says it all: love carries actions with it. The hard part is accepting that loving others, acting in someone else’s best interests, and reaching out to them may not always be reciprocated. Love has to be rooted in our love for Christ or we will often feel like we are coming up short.

Pastor Craig says we are here on earth to love. And although I’m sure he is correct, I don’t believe we, as humans, are doing this very well. We certainly want to “be loved” and to “feel love” but we are not so quick to do the loving ourselves. There is too much chance for pain.

This is really the same point of view I shared On Brotherly Affection 3. If agape love is from the deepest place of the heart but we have walled off our heart for fear of being hurt or disappointed, our love is pretty puny. We keep our love “safe.” We don’t take risks. We don’t forgive.

Pastor Craig laid out a few helps to learning how to love… and the first one and most important is knowing and trusting that we are in the hands of God. This understanding is key to all of the steps we have discussed these past 50 days with Christ. Each element, whether it is faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, or love, must be rooted in our security that God is sovereign and God is loving (doing what is best for me) me and God is forgiving.

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