AGAPE: NO GREATER LOVE
Do you long to be loved? Then you should know you can experience the highest form of love by experiencing God and his love.
[agape ag.ah’ pay] (strongs26) love, affection benevolence, dear, goodwill
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 NLT
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NLT
This is Buster’s story. By the time he was 21 he had acquired the label of “town drunk”. He was named after the Hollywood comic actor. But life was not fun nor funny for Buster Keaton. His childhood was filled with domestic violence. His oil field worker father was a heavy drinker and extremely negative. That left Buster with deep emotional wounds and scars. So, while he was still a teenager he had learned to escape into alcohol. Frequently he staggered home well after midnight from bars and honkytonks. His neighbor had a vicious pit bull dog named Monster who would be waiting for him. He would growl and tear at his yard fence angrily working to break out to attack Buster. Buster hated him. He cursed him but feared him.
Some friends talked Buster into accompanying them to a gospel revival service. That night Buster gave his heart to the Lord. Amazing grace: he was overwhelmed by love and joy that he had never experienced before. He walked home late that night, feeling lighter and full of love. Suddenly there was the house where the pit bull dog, Monster lived. Instead of cursing, Busted found himself talking to the dog. “I love you, Monster dog” Buster exclaimed. Monster did not growl nor bark. Buster, standing in the dark street repeated himself “I love you Monster!” The dog did not even growl back. He was listening. At least Buster thought so. Buster then realized his whole world had truly changed. He was a new man. And the dog had a new way of responding to the new man walking down that street. Buster went on to become an effective evangelist beloved by all.
In New Testament times the word agape was to become the main word for Christian love. The Greeks had four key words for love. Eros was used always to express love mainly between the sexes. Storge described familial, kindred love: love for kids, parents, and kin folk. Philia was used for warm affection of brothers who were true comrads, as in a fraternity. Agape was reserved for the highest of virtues, affection that was benevolent and moral, having invincible goodwill. Agape is not found in the classical literature of Greece. But it was the perfect word to be used when speaking of Christ’s love or loving one another. John, in his Gospel immortalized Jesus’ message: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends…” (John 15:13, 14 NLT) That is agape: a love which is of greater importance than faith. Agape can only be experienced through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since it is the highest virtue, agape is not a product of human effort. Only through a rebirth involving the grace of God, the faith of man, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, can one truly love. Agape is the verbal form of love. To be loved by God and to love God is an amazing gift open to all, to whosoever will. To love God and one’s neighbor is the highest human virtue. Love never fails. It is eternal.
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