We have a problem with the word love in our culture.
You don’t have to look very far to see how few of us are capable of loving well. Just watch the way we engage in any type of political conversation or the comments left on social media. And then there are the times we give our spouse the cold-shoulder or the snide comments we make to our kids or the gossip-filled complaints we spew in the hallway. Love is hard, even for Jesus followers.
We fail to love God because we don’t like the circumstances we find ourselves in or because we don’t feel close to Him. We fail to love the people around us because we don’t approve of their choices. They aren’t living their lives the way we think they should. Or, we want to receive something from them in return for our love. And if our needs are not being met, well, then we decide it’s time to disengage.
The kind of love we typically give is shallow and dangerous. The love we have come to embrace and demand is conditional and shifting…and it is killing our souls.
This is not the kind of love Jesus has for us or desires us to show others. His love is agape. This kind of love is unconditional. There are no strings attached. It is a love that refuses to abandon when things get tough or when you aren’t getting what you want. It chooses the interests of another above oneself. It is self-sacrificing. It is willful. It involves a choice. It doesn’t just happen.
I will love…
If you put me first
If I get what I want
If I feel like it
If you make me happy
If I get something out of it
I will love…
Even if I don’t feel like it
Even if I don’t approve of what you’re doing
Even if you’ll never love me back
Even when things aren’t the way I want
Even if I am tired
Even if it means making a sacrifice
Even if it means putting your interests in front of mine
Even when things don’t go my way
Even when things get tough
Agape love is a decision to be “all in” for God and people, regardless of how you feel.
How are you loving the people in your life? Is your love like the world’s or are you loving radically different? Think about the people who are difficult for you to love well right now. Look again at the list above. Is it hard because you are loving with the world’s love or with agape love?
Decide to give up the way the world loves and choose agape love. This is the kind of love Jesus has for you. This is the kind of love that will change the world and fill your soul.