Love is not what you and I think it is. Or at least not what the culture around us says it is. In our world “love” is just code for “a positive emotion”. It comes and it goes. You can fall in love with someone. And you can fall out of love with someone. I once read an article about wedding vows the understood love in this kind of way. Instead of promising to be together “till death do us part”, the bride and the groom promised to be together “as long as our love shall last”. Yikes!
Christian love is a totally different kind of love. In the New Testament there are a few different words used for “love”. But the most significant and the most often used is the word “agape”. Agape was a common Greek word for love, but early Christians injected new and deeper meaning into it.
When Christians spoke of agape they did not merely speak of an emotion. Agape was not just a way of feeling something toward someone. Agape was not something that could come and go. Agape was not something that could run out.
Agape-love moved the idea of love from a noun to a verb. Instead of love being just a feeling, love was now something more. It was an action. The action was self-sacrifice. It was the choice to lay down one’s life for another.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this kind of agape-love when he encourages husbands to love their wives. He writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25) The point Paul is making is that a husband’s “love” for his wife should have little to do with how he feels about her in a given moment. Instead it should have everything to do with his choice to sacrifice his own life (ambitions, time, and career) for the well-being of his wife.
This agape-love is a very different kind of love then what we are used to. But it is the same kind of love that God through Christ shows us. In his letter to the church at Rome the Apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(Rom.5:8)
God had every right to feel a whole host of negative emotions toward us, as we were his enemies. But God made a choice to pursue us, to sacrifice himself for us, to love us. In the person of Jesus Christ, God laid down his life for us. He showed us his agape-love.
God’s love for you is not only a different kind of love, but it is a better kind of love.
God’s love for you is not just an emotion or a feeling, it does not come and go. God’s love for you can not run out. God can not fall out of love with you.
God’s love for you is a choice. It is a disposition. It is through Christ Jesus absolutely secure.
It is for this reason the Apostle Paul wrote the beautiful words of Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s love displayed through Jesus Christ is not like our love. It is a different kind of love. And it is a better kind of love.