There’s 2 things that all human beings are not very good at.
Do you know what they are?
Love and Forgiveness
But Nick, I can forgive, I just can’t forget.
But saying that exact thing, is only another way of saying, “I cannot forgive”
And it is because of love, that we can or cannot forgive.
They go together!
It starts with love.
We are not very good at loving other people… some of us are not very good at loving ourselves!
It is much easier to get infuriated/angry with other people and ultimately hate other people.
We may argue against the word hate but we are kidding ourselves if we deny that we have never had hate in our heart towards someone.
I remember hating someone so much, being so angry with them… that I wish they didn’t exist!! - basically I wished them dead… that is committing murder in my heart.
I’m sure there have been times where you would rather punch somebody in the face rather than walk away… or even more radical… love them despite your feelings!
Why is that? Why is it so much easier to get angry and hate than it is to love? Why is it easier to hold on to anger rather than forgive someone?
I mean we see that in our world! We see that in everyone’s feelings towards Trudeau (mine included in there)! In divorces, family fallouts, mass murders, etc.
It is so much easier to hate than to love on this earth… than to forgive… why?
Because we live in reciprocal relationships of love.
There are three types of love:
2 of these types of love are reciprocal and one is non-reciprocal
Eros is a passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings; it is the kind that often triggers “high” feelings in a new relationship and makes you say, “I love him/her”.
It is simply an emotional and sexual love.
It is a reciprocal love.
Although this romantic love is important in the beginning of a new relationship,
it may not last unless it moves a notch higher because it focuses more on self instead of the other person.
If the person “in love” does not feel good about their relationship anymore, they will stop loving their partner.
It is a giving and receiving love - without giving or receiving it no longer exists and animosity/negative feelings can emerge.
That’s why Divorces happen - and some divorces are so destructive that it cause a couple to hate each other soo much that they can’t even be in the same room together without the world crashing down upon everyone’s heads!
Eros - a reciprocal love that is dependent upon self-focus
T: the other reciprocal love is phileo
Phileo love refers to an affectionate, warm and tender platonic love. It makes you desire friendship with someone.
It is a love shared amongst one another.
but again… it is a reciprocal love -
it is a love that is self-focused on the desire for friendship.
you give this love… you receive this love…
As soon as it is no longer given or received, it becomes broken and no longer exists.
Phileo is dependent upon desire for another.
Because we mostly operate out of reciprocal love… when we hear the call to love our enemies… it makes us want to shut off our ears to what Jesus says.
Jesus says in v. 27:
“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you,
I say to you who listen… apparently there were some there who were not going to listen… this radical love for enemies is too much for some to hear.
This statement - this command by Jesus is hard to hear - I don’t like it!!!
I don’t want to love my enemies!!!!
I would rather see them cast into the pit of hell before I would love them!!!
Why Jesus!? I have no desire to love them!
That’s why we quit listening to Jesus call/command to love.
desire - it is self-focused.
This radical love that Jesus is calling us to is a radical selfless love.
A love that is non-reciprocal.
A love that expects nothing in return.
It is a selfless love called agape.
The word used for love throughout all of this text is agape.
Agape love is an unconditional love that gives and expects nothing in return. It is a non-reciprocal selfless love that doesn’t need to be given back to exist.
We call it the “God Love”
It is a no strings attached love - freely given whether it is received or not.
That is the love that Jesus calls us to for all people - even those we wish would disappear.
Jesus says in v 32:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
If you love those who love you, you are still in a reciprocal loving relationship.... everyone can do that!
But Jesus says:
But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.
Expect nothing in return… then you will be children of the Most High!
The Most High God
If he can love me with an agape love…
if i can be in His loving embrace when I completely don’t deserve it… then why shouldn’t I give that same agape love to others who receive it from the Most High God!
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God loved everyone so much that He killed His Son Jesus - so ALL - not some - ALL… EVERYONE… would not perish, but have eternal life.
God’s love is so great that even the most wicked person has a chance at salvation… if they turn to Christ and believe. Have faith in who He is and what He has done for ALL.
But how do we live with agape love?
What does that look like for me… I get how God can do it, but how can I love like that?
On July 12, 1986, Steven McDonald, a twenty-nine-year-old police officer on patrol in Central Park New York, stopped to question three teenagers about a bicycle theft.
The oldest, a fifteen-year-old, took out a gun and shot him in the head, neck, and arm.
McDonald was rushed to a hospital, where surgeons told his wife that he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life.
McDonald spent the next eighteen months in the hospital.
A few years later, McDonald made headlines again, this time because he publically forgave his shooter.
Before his death in January 2017, McDonald explained why he forgave his shooter:
Looking back, pondering on my life since that time, it's clear to me that God was in charge.
All he wanted was the opportunity to use me.
He just needed my yes, and that was made possible by prayer.
It's that simple, really.
Through the family and friends that God put in my life, and their prayers, God spoke to me and said, "Will you love this boy who shot you?"
And the best way that I could love him was to forgive him.
Left to my own abilities, I don't think I would have done it. …
And I know that I would have died a long time ago had I not listened to God, said yes to God, followed the example of his Son, and loved and forgiven.
Adapted from Sam Hine, "God's Cop," The Plough (April 2017)
We see this love displayed clearly by Jesus on earth when he was arrested.
When those around him saw what was going to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus responded, “No more of this!” And touching his ear, he healed him.
In Jesus’ last miracle - which I find most compelling - he heals the man who is His enemy and turns to the hate filled hearts of His disciples and says “No more of this!”
Those words “no more of this” are meant for us… they are meant for me…
Nick… no more… live with the love I gave you…
Jesus says live with the agape love I have shed for you…
There are no enemies in heaven… only the children of the Most High God!
Let us live that way by our love here on earth… no matter how hard it truly is…
It is a forgiving love that has no limits… a love expecting nothing in return… a love that is fostered and grown in the heart through prayer and Jesus.
This message of God’s love (Agape) without boundaries is the foundation for how we are to love others.
It's love that persists in spite of hatred, ignorance and sin.
It's the love that conquers death by pouring itself out for the sake of an enemy.
The only way to truly have joy and hope in this life is to completely rest in God's compassionate and boundless agape love and share that love which He has given you to others… expecting nothing in return.
Agape love is a love that is radical and transcends all hate, evil and brokenness.
It is a love that forgives and can forget, it is a selfless sacrificial love displayed fully through Christ and the cross. He has given us the Holy Spirit who will work on our hearts to become more agape loving rather than just phileo loving.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “An overflowing love, which seeks nothing in return, AGAPE is the love of God operating in the human heart.”
This week… read 1 Corinthians 13 - the word for love in that chapter is agape… pray and meditate on those words…
May God Most High continue to transform us from reciprocal lovers… to agape - radical selfless - lovers…