(An excerpt from my summer writings)
I have been in a study all summer long, devotionally, academically and practically in my everyday life. I suppose there is a validity to say this summer of 2013 has truly been my “Summer of Love”! It has been a gift from God to have such a long sabbatical from church work to study, pray and immerse myself in this grand subject (Agape) and to attempt to walk it out in a real way with my love, Linda by my side. Some of my closest loved ones might say to me, I didn’t see any great difference in you this summer; however I would have to add, these changes I write about have been from the inside, and are this agape infusion is even now just working it’s power to my exterior behavior.
One thing that has been clear from the very start to me in my study and devotion is that I was and I am still lacking in this area (Love). I consistently come up short in this area and must return to the source of this love to be endued with more love as I recognize my need for more Agape power in my everyday life.
Agape is the Greek word used in the New Testament that describes “Divine Love”, “love from above!” It is this Holy Spirit powered endument (of Agape) that is the primary force promised by Jesus to His followers as he ascends into the heavens. He had commanded them to love this way as they went out spreading the Good News and it is the distinctive attractiveness that made those early Christians standout in a strangely attractive way from the ancient culture that persecuted them.
To love those who love you is not all that difficult most times; however to love those you don’t even like or naturally want to love is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to Christian Love. That is my starting point of my study, we all come up short on this one, right? Come on, let’s get real now! I do not think it a misuse of scripture to use this verse in this context to back up our obvious short comings in this area:
Romans 3:23 There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
New Testament clearly teaches (1 John 4:8) that “God Is Love,” some of you may have a skewed view of God and don’t believe this fact and that is where you will need to start, discovering The Lords definition of love. Others have a lack of confidence that God is able to infuse broken, sinful human beings with this higher level of Love, if that is you, you will have to start right there, where your faith is failing you. Do not let a lack of faith discourage you from this quest, your faith will increase along the way! Mine has increased consistently along this journey, have confidence in this blessed side effect you will experience along the way, an increased faith in God’s power!
There are so many possible roadblocks that make this quest seem too difficult to receive and to live out this Agape life from God. Many will be tempted to blow off the thought of taking this journey and label it as a naive utopian folly; nevertheless I urge you not to go there! I urge you to remember, Jesus promised us this possibility and Jesus never lies! Remember Jesus lived the Agape life, He proved it can be lived! One more thing, remember the only way to arrive at a desired destination is to set out on the journey to that destination!
This is how the New Testament establishes some of the benchmarks of Agape. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. Love never fails.
As I intend to publish more pages of this Agape quest in the coming weeks, I invite you to take the journey with me.
I leave you today my friends with this encouragement, to dream with me and imagine the world you live in becoming a bit more loving because you began this journey. As I leave you with the words of Robert Frost in his classic poem as a kind of enticement to take this journey with me into the depth of God’s love.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveler, long I stood, And looked down one as far as I could, To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by, AND IT HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!”