“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”
—G.K. Chesterton, English Author and Apologist
Jesus wants love to govern all our relationships. On some level, it can be expressed through the various types of love we have discussed. But there is another love that captures Jesus’ love best: agape love.
Agape love takes these other types of loves into account, but it goes a bit further. There is a beautiful nuance to agape. It says far more about the giver than it does the receiver. This kind of love points to where it originates as much as to how it functions or who benefits from it.
Agape is self-sacrificing. Without making objects out of people, agape love is Other-centered. This kind of love seeks the best for The Other. It isn’t selfish. It doesn’t assume it knows what’s best for someone but seeks their good in every way. It asks, “What is the best way to love?” without assuming the answer.
In one of my favorite quotes, Thomas Merton* says, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business, and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”*
Our determination to love keeps us from bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, pride, and any number of other diseases. Our lives are better when we choose to love.
*Merton, Thomas. Disputed Questions. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985
· Who do you find it most difficult to love?
· What is it about you that makes that hard?
· How are you receiving the love of God so that you may give it away?