Anchored in Agape

Anchored in “Agape”

Notes based on sermon. Watch the sermon HERE

Ephesians 3:16b-19 (Click here to expand)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love [agape], 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Real “Agape” love has an incredible ability to anchor us and ground us. When we give and receive agape love to God and when we give and receive it to each other as neighbors. We are going to talk about extending “agape” love to each other as neighbors.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This passage is a really big deal! All the law and the prophets hang on these two commands?

10 Commandments: First 4 Commands are all about loving God, Next 6 are about loving our neighbor

10 Commandments

Exodus 20:3-17

“You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

2 Sides of a coin:

You have to see this type of love that Jesus is talking about as something that comes from the first command (To love the Lord your God). In order to love people with agape love, it has to be grounded in your own loving relationship with the Father.

Q: When you think of the word love, what comes to mind?

I know for me, my mind is filled with all kinds of fuzzy feelings, hollywood moments, marriage, ect… learning more about agape has been so hard because every time I read the word “love” in the Bible my mind immediately tries to impose it’s understanding of this word and my romantic view of the word is not really what Jesus is talking about. Agape love is much more grounded and practical than many of our views of the word love.

Q: Why is understanding Agape so important?

Without understanding what we are actually being called to do, we can’t properly calibrate our expectations with other Christians so we can often times get our feelings hurt because we are expecting to receive love in the ways that we personally define it rather than in the ways God defines it.

In the N.T. era, prior to Jesus breathing life into this dead word, here were the ways people understood the different types of “love”:

“Love” pre-agape

  • Eros – Romantic Love
  • Philia – Brotherly Love
  • Storge – Natural affection (Family members or people you grew up with)
  • Agape – existed but it was a pretty neutral word that used often as a synonym.

It is God alone who gives definition to the word agape. We cannot put our definitions of love on top of His, we must put on the brand of love that Jesus preaches: agape love.

1 John 4:16b

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

A working definition of Agape love:

unconditional & selfless commitment to another’s internalization of the love of God

What it is:

  • Selfless: “it [Agape] is not self-seeking” – 1 Corinthians 13:5b
    • This rules out codependency because being codependent means that you rely on the affection you receive back when you show love to others (For example, loving your enemies)
  • Unconditional: “But God demonstrates his own [agapē] for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
  • Active: “Dear children, let us not [agapaō] with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18
  • Divine: “God is [agapē]. Whoever lives in [agapē] lives in God, and God in them.” – 1 John 4:16
  • Sacrificial: “This is how we know what [agape] is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16
  • Initiates: “This is [agapē]: not that we [agapaō] God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
  • Fearless: 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear [phobos] in [agapē].”
    • When we start to feel fear it is because the “self” is resurfacing.

What it isn’t

  • Controlling – “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead…(Matt 20: 25b-26a)
  • Emotional – “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9:
    • It is not rooted in our emotions
  • Weakness – (Matt 26:53)
    • It is not from a place of insecurity
  • Codependent – You are a doorman, but not a doormat
    • It is not about receiving anything in return, which is the nature of co-dependency
  • Fandom –  You wouldn’t die for your sports team or favorite musician
  • Feeble – “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” – 1 John 4:16
    • God actually living in you?! That is hardly feeble!

There are 2 questions I believe you can ask yourself to know if you have Agape love for someone: 

  1. Are my decisions in this relationship ultimately aimed toward helping them draw nearer to experiencing the [agape] of God?
  2. Am I expecting something in return?

Colossians 3:12-14

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved [agapaō], clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love [agapē], which binds them all together in perfect unity.

It is through Agapē that we understand the appropriate and healthy applications of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Without Agape for the person you are interacting with you will likely misapply these which often leads to less healthy warped adaptations of love.

Who are we called to love this way? According to the story of the good samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), everyone we cross paths with.

Agape is not just for family, it is not just for friends, it is not just for people like you, it is for everyone you cross paths with.

Jesus challenges our Ideas of Love:

  • Washing His Disciples’ feet (John 13:1-7): Demonstrated that Agape love is lowering yourself enough to show up for other people and serve them.
  • He rebuked and corrected People (Matthew 16:23)
  • Eating and Drinking with “sinners”: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and other notorious sinners
  • Confronted and exposed hypocrisy: This would free the people that these religiously pious people had kept captive
  • Sacrificing his own life: To love someone is to be with them, right? How can love mean leaving? – This breaks all notions of our understanding of love – Love in this way is totally and utterly selfless. There is zero gain in this type of love for the one dying.

Notice one thing we have not talked about: Feelings

Jeremiah 17:9

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

When we think Agape love is about feelings we place inappropriate expectations on each other! Just because we might feel unloved doesn’t mean we are unloved. Sometimes our feelings can actually lead us to wrongfully conclude that someone does not love us. Feelings can be so misleading!

For example I know my wife has Agape love for me. That does not mean I will always feel loved. This is because Agape has more to do with her selfless commitment to helping me see God than my feelings.

Q: Who do you feel like doesn’t love you? Are you showing agape love to them? 

Even when we might consider someone our “enemy” we are still called to show them agape. Keep in mind that agape does not mean subject yourself to abuse. Agape is about doing whatever needs to be done for someone to see God even if that means set boundaries.

  • When you are serving someone hoping that later on they will return the favor – That is not Agape, it is something else
  • When you talk about people rather than to people, that is not Agape that is mean.
  • When you avoid people, that is not Agape.
  • When you rebuke or correct someone and it is not to help them see something about God, that is not Agape
  • If you plan an event expecting to be lifted up, that is not from Agape
  • If you are rebuking someone because you are personally upset, this is not selfless agape love.

Agape love has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with God and the other person. This is what makes it challenging and painful.

We often love to benefit ourselves: This is not Agape

  • Agape is not concerned with “me”
  • It does not ask “what will I get in return”
  • It does not seek to be recognized
  • it does not take action to receive pats on the back,
  • it doesn’t overly concern itself with fuzzy feelings,
  • it doesn’t look for security from people.
  • Agape will speak the truth
  • agape will rebuke,
  • and sometimes agape may not feel like our weak brand of flimsy knockoff fake “love”,
  • as long as it is based in truth and Spirit-led and selfless – make no mistake…that is real love.

Agape is the only brand of love that can be clearly seen as “otherworldly” every other form of love – we can see and observe.

Agape is the anchor we all need to see more of right now and I am asking God to open our eyes so that we might see that this love really is present among us and I ask God to help us to continue to grow in this love.

It is true, you don’t have to “like” everyone. This is not really a command, but you have to have [agape] for everyone.

**What does this mean: No matter how any of us might feel about someone we are called to be Selflessly and unconditionally committed to someone else being able to see God.

Agape Challenge: Who is God putting on your heart that you can show Agape love to? Pray and see what name is put on your heart then figure out a way to  help them see how much God loves them.

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