You have heard me speak about the term “agape love” several times, but you still may not be clear on what it means. What is agape love? How is it different from the dozens of other ways we use the word “love”? First, let’s understand what it is not. Agape love is not romantic love; people of all faiths – and no faith – experience romantic love. Secondly, it is not brotherly love, where we experience a natural chemistry with another person. Even those who are not followers of Jesus, experience brotherly love.
Agape love is unconditional love. It is a choice we make to love another person whether that person loves us in return or not. It is a love that is offered even when we know it will not be returned. Agape love means we choose to love someone even if he or she is an enemy! Even if that person is not like us. Even if that person is someone considered unlovable and unworthy of love. Agape love is not based on emotion at all. In fact, it may be contrary to every emotion we experience. It is an act of the will.
Agape love presents a real challenge for us who claim to be followers of Jesus. It is tough to live out of agape because it’s hard to love someone who doesn’t respond to you in the same way. And all of us are gong to have certain people – even within the body Christ – that we struggle to love. And yet, God is very clear: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.