Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love Expressed, Increases by Graham Cooke

When the Gospel came to the Greek people, they had no language for unconditional love. No word could adequately represent the magnitude for the concept. They had to make up a word that defines God's loving nature. That word is Agape. The most important thing about love is what we do with it.

Agape is unselfish love which expects no return We love for the sake of loving. Love begets love as surely as hate produces hatred. Love grows when given but diminishes when withheld. Agape is the unconditional love that God give us because of Who He is in Himself. He absolutely loves His enemies. The absolute proof of which is John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:1-10.

We love those who have lost sight of themselves and as a result have no clear idea of how to behave around people. The selfish, the arrogant, the abuser, and the miserly; people who are stingy, narrow-minded, and ungenerous. Love catches all and touches everyone. The difficult people are the proof of love since they need the most to be changed by it. Loving the nice is good practice; loving the unlovely is a sure sign that we know that we ourselves are the Beloved.

Love is feeling good about ourselves in the eyes of the Father and seeing what He sees in other people. It takes patience to love some people. Time is required for us to get over our prejudice, open our heart to God, and make life decisions about who we are going to be for the people who get on our last nerve. Christians are not renowned for thinking patiently. We preach about love but practice the worldly kind. We do not set people free with God's love; we imprison them with our own fleshly habits of anger, judgment and blame. Love does not make people pay. We confuse judgment with justice. Judgment revolves around blame, punishment, and condemnation. Justice is the mix of righteousness with integrity and dignity. It is about fair treatment and impartiality. Love enable people to be advantaged even in ways they least deserve.
Such love is not weak. It is powerful but meek, kind but firm, generous and righteous. Meekness is not weakness; it is strength under control. Love will not abandon others to their fate. Love changes the course of life. It does not wash its hands of people. Agape love will never diminish another human being, but will make a point to enhance their quality of life.

When we love as God loves we are most connected to our truest identity. We discover ourselves  in God. We are always more free when practicing love and always more bound when we imprison other people by guilt. Agape love is not self-conscious, overly sensitive or self-righteous. We must expect to be criticized for real love. The sure sign that we are manifesting God's Presence in Agape is revealed in our vilification by the super-spiritual and the religious minded.

We cannot pretend to love people; that is unreality. however we can practice the nature of God on everyone, and in so doing, be transformed ourselves. Agape is a very deliberate choice. It cannot be merely spontaneous — it must be consciously planned. Such love is not simply a feeling but a definitive act of the will. We choose love regardless of how we feel. We love because of who we are now and because of who we want to become in Jesus.
Love expressed increases. Love withheld declines. Love is not about having the right person in front of us, who can see us in the right way. If God has loved us first (1 John 4:19) then we must look inward, not outward, for Agape. Love, like the Kingdom, is within us now! Accept it, receive it, and rejoice in it. Love being loved. The best way to express love is to do it.
Giving love demonstrates Jesus. Agape is not contrived and it is not selfish. Love always returns to us by use. We have love now - give it! nothing makes people more dependent, self-pitying, bitter, cynical and emotionally crippled than thinking they don't have love unless someone gives it to them.

We must start where we are slowly. It is vital to let love be a conscious act that defines who we want to become in our own identity. Love needs no reward. It does not keep score. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. It needs no fanfares, grandiose statements, promises or resolutions. We do not need to draw attention to ourselves. Love from within the shadow of God's wings. Quietly, unannounced, in secret. The Father who sees in secret will multiply Agape to us. When we love, we bless ourselves. Just do it, quietly, for God's sake!

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