I can understand the excitement and feelings of individuals when talking about food, gifts or whatever else. When we describe our excitement for such items and our feelings, we invariably come back to that word to try to convey our deep feelings for whatever we are trying to describe.
The Greek language has several different words that convey certain levels of love. The one that is almost used exclusively when describing God’s love for us is agape. This love has no conditions attached to it. It is undeserved love and is the highest form of love possible. This love is almost alien to us and we cannot adequately fathom its depth or even try to understand its true meaning.
The noted British writer and Anglican lay theologian, C. S. Lewis, studied the word, “love”, in the Bible in Greek. He determined that there were four types of love called out in the scripture. Agape love is essentially God’s love. His love is undeserved, gracious and sacrificial.
Christmas reminds us of His love. He gave His one and only son, Jesus, to the world as His gift of love to us. That love was undeserved. Later in life, that love takes on the sacrificial aspect of the word. Jesus showed agape love while he was on the cross and took on the sins of the world.
In chapter two of his first epistle, John writes, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
The love offered and understood by the world means nothing and is nothing. When the world refers to love, it refers to the carnal and lustful aspect. This love craves and desires things that are of this world. It concerns itself with pride in the things we create for ourselves. It is not God’s love at all. It is the sinful love of possession and achievements. All of those things will pass away in time and just become part of the noise of a chaotic world.
As Christians, we should not love or crave the things of this world. That sort of “love” leads to destruction and ultimately spiritual death. Our love for God and for each other should be pure, willful and sacrificial. This love intentionally desires another’s highest good.
Alyssa Roat, in an article for Christianity.com, wrote, “Agape love does not come naturally to us in our sinful state. However, it does come naturally to God and is an integral part of Him. By drawing closer to Him and experiencing His love, we can begin to understand what this real love means. Only through Him can we show and experience agape love.”
Paul, in chapter thirteen of his first epistle to the church in Corinth, writes, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
He goes on further to write, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
From our perspective and the sinful lens of this world, that sort of love is completely alien and cannot be understood. Our sinful heart is unable to express agape love. We only know and understand the more carnal form of love. We crave and desire only the things that bring us pleasure. However, a gift was given to the world that changed all of that. That gift came in the form of a small child wrapped in cloth and resting on hay in a manger.
From that humble beginning, Jesus not only embodied God’s love but also taught us the deeper meaning of love. He taught us about agape love. When he was crucified and left on a cross to die, he did that out of agape love for each of us.
When we accept this wonderful gift of love and salvation from God, we are transformed and we begin to truly understand the nature and have an idea of the depth of God’s love. God is infinite in understanding and in love for us.
As you go through this second week of Advent, I ask you to think about God’s love and what He did for you. Think about the transformation of your heart when it comes to loving not only Him but also those around you. I also ask you to show God’s love in your life.
John, in chapter three, writes, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.”
With the economy the way that it is and food banks running low on many things, we should show our love by helping and loving those in need. Don’t just say that you love them. Faith is believing and acting.
Act out of Christian love and give to those who may not have a merry Christmas. Christmas is not just a single day out of 365. It is the love that fills the year and is given every day. When you show agape love to those around you, you are reflecting God’s love into the world and standing firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
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