Agape love is not a feeling, it’s a verb.
I recently told a friend, ”love isn’t the fuzzy feeling you get when someone gives you a hug, love IS the hug.” And that’s true of agape love, which in essence is love that is self-sacrificing as opposed to romantic or sexual love (eros) , familial love (storge), or affectionate friendship love (philia).
First of all, whew! I LOVED being validated in my thinking.
But second of all, ugh! That means I have work to do. Whether or not I feel like loving others, Mark 12:30-31 tell us that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
The “love” commanded in these verses is agape love, love that is self-sacrificing. It will cost you something. You will have to look past the end of your own nose to make it happen. I don’t know about you, but doing selfless things is not always easy, it takes intentionality to take notice, and energy to make it happen.
That means walking outside to say “hi” when you see your neighbor pushing her stroller around the block rather than hiding behind the blinds or scuttling upstairs to hunker down with the laundry basket. It means being patient with the family blocking the cereal aisle in the grocery store when you’re running late and you have a headache. It means scooping your neighbor’s cat doo-doo while they’re on their epic Disney vacation despite loving cats about as much as you love snakes.
Why did God tell us to love others?
1) Because it’s not our natural inclination to just walk around looking for ways to serve others. It isn’t like breathing: we have to make ourselves do it. And a lot of times we need to be told what it is we’re supposed to be doing. Reminded.
2) Because He knew it would set us apart. I mean, who just goes around loving others more than they love themselves? Not very many people. And when someone does go around oozing selflessness loving and serving others, people sit up and take notice then want to know what makes that person tick. Boom! Perfect chance to point to God.
3) Because He IS love. If we are to be like God and emulate Jesus, we’ve got to love each other in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s part of living out our faith.
So, who can you BE a hug to today? Now, go agape someone!