Agape. Unmerited Love
2020. What a year. Anxiety, stress, fear, and hatred are at an all time high. Just when we think things can’t get worse, we have a flashpoint event like what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis. More than ever, we need to reach out to each other and show love. We need to look at the light and fire in each other’s souls and embrace (from a distance) one another.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
The upcoming presidential election, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and divisive injustice simply polarizes us — if we let it. As humans, we react to what affects us individually. As Christians, we need to act, rather than react, out of love, compassion, and fellowship. Usually, when we look at each other’s differences, we’re judging a flaw in our minds. We’re comparing them to us in a greater than/lesser than way. That’s not what Jesus asked of us.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:7-8
This passage gets down to the crux of the issue. When we judge others, we’re taking God’s place. One day, we will all be judged by the ultimate righteous judge. When we are impatient with our friends or strangers, we are going against every fiber that defines us as Christians. When we lash out violently against others, we are are letting our emotions and insecurities paint a picture of who we are. Only God knows whether this is an accurate picture or not.
There have always been political, ethnic, racial, and geographic differences between us. Why does it seem like in today’s world, these differences have created unscalable walls of hate. Indifference for others’ suffering. Intolerance for difference of opinions. Blind rage against people not like us. We should embrace our uniqueness and the special things God gave us to be wonderfully made. But when we focus on our differences, we are blurring the beautiful human traits we share. We are are neglecting the Christ in us. We are forgetting everything that Jesus died for.
“For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.”
When we look back on events in time, we can usually spot from where the errors stemmed. Many times, conflict arises due to miscommunication, many times, it’s a lack of understanding, but many more times, it’s a lack of compassion. How many events in recent or long time history would have gone down differently if we only looked at one another as Christ looks at us. I’m a sinner. I have done plenty of things I’d love to do differently. Unfortunately, I will continue to sin, that’s my fallen nature as human being. But, Jesus still loves me. He forgives me. The death He died was meant for me, but He paid the price that I couldn’t pay. Why don’t we extend this second chance to others?
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:24
We have been saved from a life of eternal misery. The kind of vitriol and hate we see in our lives will not be for an instant, but for an eternity in hell. As it says in 1 Peter, we have been healed. Do our lives show thanks and graciousness for that second chance?
After more details came out about the Coronavirus, there have been signs of increased animosity towards Asian people. Forgetting the real truth of the matter, we choose anger, fear, hatred towards others because it’s an immediate and emotional solution. Of course, this behavior doesn’t solve a thing. It only satisfies the demands from the one force on earth who thrives on anger and hatred. Contempt and mistrust serves no one. If we are truly Christian, we should strive to live our lives as we have been shown by the only person who never sinned.
During the Exodus from Egypt, Moses’ people were tired, hungry, and thirsty. Their journey into freedom erupted into frequent complaints against Moses and Aaron.
“Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”
By not loving our brothers and sisters, we are sinning against God. Our hatred is an offense to others and an offense to God. “Agape” [aga-pay] is a word often used in the Bible that refers to universal love, such as love for strangers, or God. Unlike other usages for love, agape does not depend on connections, merit, or familiarity.
“When we rise to love on the agape level, we love men not because we like them, not because their attitudes and ways appeal to us, but we love them because God loves them. Here we rise to the position of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
- Has 2020 reshaped you? Have external events changed your inner being?
- We’ve all judged family, friends, and strangers for their “shortcomings”. How does that make us feel? How long does that “satisfaction” last?
- When stressed and pushed, what comes out of you? What are you showing about your Christian character? Are you painting a picture worthy of the cross?
- We can’t let circumstances change our moral being. Sure, things happen and are out of our control. We never have to change who we are and what we believe. Browse the Psalms particularly about conquering struggles. We will change, but God within us, should never. Don’t let it.
- The next time you want to act out of fear, hatred, or intolerance — think again. You won’t feel better. Picture what that person is feeling. Picture that person as your best friend, would you treat them the same way? Pray and ask Jesus for patience and wisdom. Wisdom isn’t intelligence, it’s knowledge from God.
- Focus on being Christ-like in good and bad. It’s not easy. Living like Jesus wants is an exercise. It will be more familiar the more you do it. Show love. Show compassion. Show grace. Reflect that agape that God made us with.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.