From Right From the Heart, by Bryant Wright
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV
You may have heard the term agape love but may not be real clear on what it means. What is agape love? How is it any different from the dozens of other ways we use the word love? First, let’s understand what it is not. It is not romantic love, because people of all faiths (and no faiths) experience romantic love. It is not brotherly love, where you have a natural chemistry with another person. Terrorists and members of the Mafia experience brotherly love. There’s certainly nothing uniquely Christian about that!
Agape love is unconditional love. It is a choice we make to love another person whether he or she loves us back or not. It means that you choose to love someone even if he is your enemy! Agape love is not based on emotion at all. In fact, it may be contrary to every emotion you have. It is an act of the will.
Agape love presents a real challenge for us. It is tough to live out because it’s hard to love someone who doesn’t respond to you in the way you would desire. And all of us are going to have certain individuals—even within the body of Christ—whom we struggle to love. And yet God’s Word is very clear: “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (Mark 12:31 NIV). Our “neighbor” is anyone. Now, you couldn’t find a clearer command about what we’re called to do as followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus “agape loves” us and commands us to “agape love” others as well.
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