Summary: We are given the command by Jesus to love others unconditionally...with agape love.
There is a story told about one pitiful man whose fiancé broke their engagement and shredded his tender heart. After some time apart, He later received a letter of apology and desire for reconciliation.
It read: Dearest Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie. PS: Congratulations on winning the state lottery!
Although, we enjoy a humorous punch line to a story, this is not overly funny to those who have experienced love that came with “terms and conditions.” It is not the least bit enjoyable receiving affection from someone who can “turn it on” and “turn it off” like a light switch.
We were created to express and receive genuine love. The genuine love we desire and long for is the love shown to us by God, through his Son, Jesus Christ. The love shown to us by Jesus Christ was unconditional love.
IF we do not aspire to this level of relational love, then as 1 Corinthians 13:2-3, tells us, we gain nothing and we becoming nothing. It is like a military member losing their ID and social security cards. No identity. No proof to back up who you really are as a person.
Jesus did not suggest it as if it would be a neat idea to give us something good to do. Jesus gave it as a command. He said in verse 34, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We must follow his example.
The love in which he speaks of is unconditional love. The Greek text here uses the word agape. This love is based on a deliberate choice to love. Agape love goes against natural human tendencies to “give and withhold” based on feeling or mood. Agape is a giving, selfless, expect-nothing-in-return level of love.
This highest form of love is referenced in the New Testament 137 times as a verb and 116 times as a noun. It is a discriminating type of love that involves a deliberate choice. This is a person who chooses to love on purpose.
This love makes no demands or sets any prerequisites before the love will be given. It chooses to love even when that same love is rejected and not given in return. This love, loves, regardless.
This is why there is such power found in john 3:16, "for god so loved…so ‘agaped’… the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
There’s so much power in that verse because god chose to give his love without even considering whether or not we would love him back.
He loves us whether it is rejected or accepted. This is the same kind of love in which Christians are called to serve, to minister and to live.
We must learn to love in this fashion. We must work at loving to this degree. It is not an option as it is our mandate from Christ himself. He repeated this in John 15:12, “my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” again, in 15:17, saying “this is my command: love each other.” Jesus gave everything and demonstrated this level of unconditional love of giving for us.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Agape is sacraficial love! Love that yearns for the other person's fulfillment even at the cost to one's self!
We must step outside ourselves by boldly reaching out in love to our neighbor and our enemies. In seeking agape love, we begin to broaden this level of love with long suffering because we choose to "put up" rather than to "give up."
It is also a strong type of love that has eternal patience because we have developed the capacity to endure that, when wronged, we do not retaliate. Through agape love, we strip ourselves of selfishness because we have re-directed our love from ourselves out to others.
Through agape love we find ourselves becoming less and less provoked because we’ve stopped being so nit-picky, easily angered, touchy, and over-sensitive of what others say about us or to us.
Through agape love we have learned to stop rejoicing in iniquity because we are found rejoicing in truth. A people that will stop dabbling in evil and finally decide to have nothing to do with it.
Last, but not least, through agape love, our love endures all things. Agape love will accept any hardship or rejection, and will continue unabated to build up and encourage. It is determining what is best for another person and then doing it despite the cost or investment!