By Kevin Guigou – Associate Pastor
The Bible’s whole plotline of redemption is a love story—a loving Father desiring a family where every party can purely love and be loved. We were made by his love for his love.
We worship God (the ultimate expression of love) to become like Jesus (the perfect model of love) and to fully experience his love among God’s people forever.
Your life is a love story.
I love God, my wife, architecture, and pistachio ice cream… but with different kinds of affection, desire, and attraction. In one expression of love, I might like something with a casual fondness; while at the other end, my love might express a passionate devotion.
In the Bible, agape love is deep, selfless, sacrificial, and reverential. Forms of this word occur 320 times in the New Testament.
Agape love prizes the object that it’s focused on. It is seen in what it does; not necessarily in how it feels.
It is a deliberate choice, not merely a senses’ emotion. Yet, meaningful feelings usually do result from actions of agape.
The two great summary commandments of Jesus are both agape love imperatives: love God with all that we are and love others like we love ourselves.
Jesus also hinted at an even higher calling: “Love folks like I love you.”
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB
The Christian life calls us to treat people the way God treats us.
And our love can only happen “because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We can overcome any challenge if our priority focus is on how much God loves us.
A More Excellent Way
Jesus spoke of how easy it is to love those who love us. But God loved us when we were weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would date even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For it while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:6-10 ESV
Jesus said, “Love your enemies!” And with final breaths, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Like grace, God’s love often goes way beyond what’s reasonable and convenient.
It gives its life for its friends. It asks us to love when there’s nothing in it for us and when the receiver won’t be returning the favor.
We love the unlovable…and sometimes, we are the unlovable.
Paul described agape love as the more excellent way and the unifying bond of perfection—knowing a love that is beyond knowledge.
“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
And the Apostle John defined agape love as obeying God’s commands and that we should “know and believe” God’s love for us.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my [Jesus] commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10 ESV
It’s vast, but it isn’t too big for us to know and experience.
When you ask the average person about the meaning of Jesus’s life, they commonly mention his love. But what they often have in mind is a perpetual, agreeable pleasantness.
The love of God isn’t always nice. Jesus always walked in love but wasn’t always cordial. Many atheists are friendly, but the Lord loved big enough to rock the boat.
Jesus’ spirit-directed love showed him when to wash feet and when to flip tables; when to speak of paradise and when to warn of Gehenna; when to call people “beloved of God” and when to label them as a viper or a tomb of rotten death.
“…My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV
God’s Spirit will give us his wisdom so we can rightly apply his love in our lives.
Next week, Pastor Kevin will continue to delve into the richness of the love of God and of His son Jesus Christ. Learn how we can love God back by watching his teaching “Falling in Love with God.”