We as a culture hear the word Love tossed around so much these days that I wonder if it still has meaning. We love our coffee…we love our car…we love our family….we love all kinds of things….In the english language there is only one Love…. The ancient Greeks had several meanings for love: Agape – Unconditional Love, Eros – Passionate Love (someone you love more than a brother), Philia – Brotherly Love (loyalty to friends, family, and community…love towards an activity) ,and Storge – Natural Affection (a parent toward their children). In Hebrew… Ahab – spontaneous and impulsive, Hesed – the deliberate choice of affection, and Raham – to have compassion or brotherly love.
Around our house we have a favorite saying….”Love is a Verb”. That means it is an action…not just a description but something you act upon. It is something that touches and impacts another’s life. Love is not meant to be passive and dropped lightly on a whim. It is truly meant to have more meaning than we currently express. The best illustration of Love in its purest form is Agape (the unconditional love of another). Not looking for anything in return….just loving from your heart…giving of yourself in a completely unselfish way. This love is manifested best in God’s love for us. The Old Testament mentions Agape over 300 times in relation to God’s love for his people. We see it used over 250 times in the New Testament. There can be no purer love than the love that Christ exhibited on the cross as he gave his life in love for a people who were still darkened with the stain of sin. There is no doubt that the only thing that held him to the cross was love for a people who were lost. What does he ask us to do…That can be seen when he was asked what was the greatest commandment: Jesus responded “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.”(Mark 12:30-31 NIV)
So the question remains: How do we love? Do we love as the world loves or do we love as Christ loves?… Is Love a noun or adjective in our lives or is it a Verb. Do we love with words or actions… My pastor had a wonderful sermon a few Sunday’s back. Hopefully with his blessing I will relate some of his words (Thanks Paul). There are three ways the church should love. Three ways we should relate to the world in Love..
- Radical Love of one another. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13: 34-35 NIV). Do we love our Christian brothers like we have been called. Do we look past each others shortcomings and personalities. Do we sacrifice for one another. Are we loving like the world or like Christ….the world is watching.
- Radical love of the Church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water thought he word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5: 25-27 NIV). Do we love the church as Christ loved her or do we date her….trying to find one that fits our needs. Are we judging the body or are we serving her as Christ served the church.
- Radical love of the unloveable. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) We all know this verse…some have even memorized it. We see it at sporting events, written on billboards…and I have even seen it on a tattoo. However, do we ponder what it means. The simple truth is that God loved us while we were still lost. We were stained with the sins of the world and in direct opposition to Him. However, he gave his only son as an atoning sacrifice so we would be saved and not have to face the sting of death. Are we at that point. Can we love the unloveable… the homeless, the foster children, the lost… or do we turn our backs as God could have done with us.
I encourage all of you to make Love a verb in your life. Stop using it to describe things…use it as it was meant to be. An action word! Take action in your family, your church, and your community. Start loving each other as Christ loves us. He does not see us as tainted and stained by the fallen nature of the world. He sees past all the little things that push the buttons of others. He sees us as beautiful, wonderful…creations of God the Father! So step out of your comfort zone….It might be risky, radical, and sometimes dangerous…but you know what…this is where we will find Jesus…loving the lost, loving those who still turn their back and hold the hammer and nails in their hands.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18)