What is Agape?

Agape (Ah-gah-pea).  There are many kinds of love—brotherly love, romantic love, amorous love, the love between a parent and a child, and also “agape” love, which is God’s universal affection.  In my heart I know that God extends His gracious love to all people, and quite probably the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom and also the mineral kingdom.  It is through this gracious love that all matter exists, in the mind and heart of our Father in Heaven, our Creator.

Yet, as individuals, we are not like clothespins on a clothesline, inanimate, swaying with the breeze.  God created thinking, feeling and discerning people, all with likes and dislikes, all with emotions, most with some form of enemies.

Jesus is known to have said “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Paraphrased from the encounter recorded in Mark 12 28-34.)

Within this encounter in Mark, Jesus places “love” as the top two commandments.  But how can we, mere people, be expected to love everyone, including the used car salesman who cheated us, or the teacher that gave us the unfair grade?  Surely there must be exceptions!

No exceptions.  Through the grace of God, we are able to love and be gracious and merciful even to those who have wronged us.  It is in the understanding that God is the Father of all, and loves us all, that our hope springs.

Even in cases of war, God loves us, and through His love all can love and be loved.  It is the love of God that unites us all.  This is the “agape.”  This is the unconditional love that we all share.  This is the cup that Jesus drank on Maundy Thursday that sealed this love forever.  This love transcends our emotions, for it is God who holds our enemies in His heart in our place.  This love is kept safe in the heart of God.

War, petty and personal, or widespread and global is beside the point.  Some are just, some are not.  However, in the heart of God, no one escapes the love and concern of their Father.

W.S.

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