To Love One Another

by | Dec 17, 2023 | Uncategorized

I will always remember the day. The dress, the man, the long walk down the aisle, the church crowded with friends and family. 

With so much happening, it’s not surprising I couldn’t focus much on the sermon. I was standing with my high school sweetheart (soon-to-be-husband) in front of our guests for the entire time, and all I remember is my excitement and a slight ache in my back from trying to keep my posture perfect. 

If we didn’t have the video, I might not have known the treasure I nearly missed. Our reverend, Dana Boynton, gave a beautiful message on love that morning, twenty years ago. Watching the video weeks later, I could actually mull over the importance of it.

He spoke of an agape love.It was the first time I heard the Greek word. Agape is so much more than romantic love. It’s more than close friendship or brotherly love. In the Bible, it is nearly always tied up in the loving character of God. Since “God is love” (1 John 4:8) it’s almost as if he can’t help loving. Independent of whether or not we act in a loving way toward him. It’s his nature; who he is and who he will forever be. 

As I’m finishing up my Old Testament biblical fiction novel, I’ve been researching a bit on the Shema, one of the first prayers taught to Hebrew children and one spoken often throughout one’s lifetime. It comes from the book of Deuteronomy and in it is one sentence that is the basis of the Jewish faith. 

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  

When Jesus arrives on the scene many years later and one of the Pharisees tests him by asking what the greatest commandment is, he recites this command. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). 

But then he adds something. Because so many times we miss the point of loving God, don’t we? And what is one of the biggest parts of loving God?

Jesus answers. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

And when asked for a clear definition of who our neighbor is, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. 

Huh. So loving God isn’t just about going to church and tithing my mint and cumin. It’s not just about fasting and praying and having devotions and doing all the religious things. It’s about an action. It’s about opening my doors and my wallet and my country to those who might impede on my space and my rights. It’s about love, however comfortable or uncomfortable that may make me feel. 

I love St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of agape love. He says it is “to consistently will and choose the good of the other.” That’s not always easy. Not in marriage, not in any relationship, not in life. But that’s what Jesus modeled. Loving his enemy. Loving those considered outcasts. Emulating the heart of God. 

It was the power of agape love that came down to Bethlehem that long ago Christmas night. It was agape love that allowed himself to be nailed to Calvary’s cross—an act that willed our good even when we didn’t want it. It was the power of agape love that pleaded with his father for the forgiveness of those whose hands drove the nails. And it was the power of agape love that broke open that tomb in glorious hope and victory. 

It was so much more than words, it was action.  My prayer is that as we receive and meditate on God’s love this Advent season, that it would overflow into the world around us. 

God is light and in him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5 

Merry Christmas!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This