New Words to Describe Unusual Love
How many popular songs can you think of that are on the Top 40 or Top Country billboards, which are all about love, or have to do with lost love, or present love or searching for love, or just something about love? As a matter of fact, most pop songs are devoted to the subject of love and it’s always been like that!
One love song that swept the globe, Silly Love Songs says, “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. I look around and see it isn’t so. Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know. So here I go again. I love you…” (Paul McCartney.)
Now, a couple thousand years ago, a different kind of love song swept the Middle East and began to sweep across the entire world. It wasn’t really a song as we might think of song, but it was a powerful force with great influence. It wasn’t really a melody, but it impacted language. It changed the very words people used!
In the marketplace, and in the realm of religion and politics, a new word was coined. What was this word? In the Greek language, which was readily used in those days, the new word was ‘agape,’ which is translated in English as ‘love.’
The people of that day developed the word ‘agape’ to describe the unusual behavior of the followers of Jesus Christ! Various sources say the followers of Jesus did good to others and worked no ill will toward anyone. They were generous and unselfish. They demonstrated what we now call ‘unconditional love.’ They would choose the good of others above themselves.
This kind of lifestyle began to change the world, along with the testimony that Jesus Christ died to forgive sin and He rose again from the dead. The most heart- rending example of this love was shown by Jesus. While dying a criminal’s death on the cross as an innocent man, Jesus Christ said these words. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)
Even though His enemies tortured Him and killed Him for no good reason, He forgave His enemies from the cross. This unusual, unselfish attitude and force of life radically changed people’s lives! This was agape love in action.
Definitions of Love and the Opposite
In order to define this word more fully, it may help to give the opposite. Jerry Cook once said that the attitude of the egotist is the opposite of God’s love. The egotist thinks he is everything. His first thoughts are of and for himself. He is self-driven. Everything he does serve his own selfish need for recognition and reward.
The egotist manipulates relationships for his benefit. The egotist is unable to sacrifice for others in a healthy way. He needs attention and reward.
On the other hand, the love of Christ is other focused, or other-referenced. The best definition of God’s love is this—choosing to act for the other person’s highest good. It’s being compassionate rather than self-driven.
You see, something happened to Jesus’ followers. Something completely transformed their lives. Their leader, Jesus, was falsely accused, arrested and condemned to die. He was crucified and buried. On the third day, He rose from the dead! The power of death and hell could not hold His resurrection life!
The same power and life and love that raised Jesus from the dead came into those who believed and followed Jesus. Their lives changed forever! The same thing happens today. It can happen to you! The resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead can be in you also!
How do we know this? There were eyewitnesses of the resurrection! One of them was the apostle John. He said the resurrection was one of Jesus’ ‘signs.’ Such signs were written that we might believe Jesus is the Christ. Let’s read John 20: 30-31.
This life mentioned is literally the life of God, abundant, overflowing, everlasting life of God. Its life as God has it! It’s the life that Jesus manifested in the world. As the apostle John also says in 1 John 1: 2, “The life was manifested and we saw…”
Each of us needs to really know and receive this! Why? We live in a world that is very toxic! It works death in us by robbing us of what God has for us! In fact, people right here may live in dark places, and carry heavy painful burdens. The world desperately needs God’s life of love, acceptance and forgiveness.
People need to be rescued from their fallen state of disconnect with God. The result of the disconnect is decay, and eventual judgment for wrongdoing. The Good News, or Gospel, is that God is in the business of restoring, and healing and saving people from the pits they’ve dug for themselves! How does He do that?
The Lord will actually impart or give His life and love into people who do believe in Him! In Romans 5:5, God’s Word says “the love of God has been poured out in (believers’) hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to them.” They’ve been given God’s love, and His Spirit!
However, many people just don’t see it! They don’t get it! Jesus could be walking right alongside some people and they wouldn’t know it! The truth can stare people in the face and they won’t see it! As a matter of fact, this very thing happened right after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Revelation Comes with Intimacy
Two men were walking on the Emmaus road just outside of Jerusalem. They talked about the amazing things that happened to Jesus. Let’s read Luke 24: 15-35. So, there are two men who are walking with the person they were talking about, and in the presence of the resurrected life, and they didn’t know it! Even when Jesus explained all the details, they still didn’t recognize Jesus! But something happened when they came to a village and went into a café and sat down to eat dinner. Jesus took bread, blessed the bread and broke it and gave it to them. Then it happened! Their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus!
When they stopped walking and talking, and when they sat down and shared food… they recognized Jesus. In the intimate space of eating together and sitting together, they experienced revelation or revealing of the Person of Jesus.
Later on, the two recalled what happened, and they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn in us while He talked with us on the road and while He opened the scriptures to us?” Didn’t we feel something with Him?
Do you think those two men were changed by what happened? The love of Christ is transforming. Jesus loved those two men enough to take the time to walk with them and talk with them for several hours and then to eat with them. And, in that intimacy, Christ was revealed!
Do you think Jesus loves you like that? Could He? Do you think He would come alongside of you and listen to you and explain scripture to you and then reveal Himself to you? Do you think the Lord Jesus would come to you on your dusty, lonely road and listen to your sadness and misunderstanding? Do you think this story just might be for you? (The apostle prayed for eyes opened. Eph. 1:18.)
Recently, I heard a teacher ask, “Do you think God loves Jesus more than you?”
How do you think most people respond? Well, scripture says God doesn’t love Jesus more. Listen. The Lord says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have supper with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20.)
What do we need to do? We need to stop, and sit down, and listen. Society and culture are moving too fast. Too many distractions and diversions. Stop and spend some time with God. Stop doing and just be. Be with God.
You may hear Jesus say this. “He who hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5: 24.)
May I ask you a question? What kind of love inside of someone can enable him to forgive his enemies while they are killing him? Either the resurrection power of love is all true… or its not… I do know that God has promised that He would carry that which I can no longer carry by myself, and He does. Put your trust in Him!