There is an old song that comes to mind, and I am not sure I remember all the words correctly, but in essence it says, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love; no, not just for some, but for everyone.”
When I look around at our world today observing its condition, I can say that those are true words. Agape, the God-kind of love, needs to be experienced by everyone. Yet we seem to fall short of its definition.
First Corinthians 13 gives us a good definition of what love is — and is not. “Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails, but whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
So whatever we do in word or deed, the foundation of our actions should be love. The Greek language gives three definitions for love, and a fourth has been added.
Phileo love is a brotherly love, a warm affection between each other.
Eros, or erotic, is a love that is normally expressed in the bonds of a marriage. Stergo is a love experienced among family members.
Agape love stands the test because all the others are done by our standards, but agape love holds a higher standard to love unconditionally.
This love is unique in that in order for it to be accomplished effectively, we must love God first and he, in turn, teaches us how to love each other unconditionally. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Now that’s a big command, for he gave his life for us. He loved us when we were, as the saying goes, tore up from the floor up. Even when he was being crucified, Jesus forgave his accusers.
Now that’s agape love, and it can be accomplished through mankind. When we humble ourselves and receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we acquire the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, whose attributes are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). In other words, we take on the image of Christ.
We then are led by his Holy Spirit, and our actions begin to change toward being more Christ-like. We then begin walking in the God-kind of love (agape), loving people and having a concern for the conditions of mankind. We will then be like apostle Paul when he declared, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Therefore, let us strive to be perfected in agape love.
Edwards is the pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.