THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Thursday, March 25th
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
1 John 3:18 (NSRV)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7 (NRSV)
Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NRSV)
Very early in our relationship, I knew I had deep feelings for Jim but I was nervous about sharing them with him, wondering how he would react. But one day I was overwhelmed with affection, and I asked him, “Is it okay if I love you a little bit?”
Our spiritual invitation today is to Let us love. We are called to love others with an agape love, a love that is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.1
Maybe the secret to loving greatly is by loving in little bits. Jesus loved the world, but most often he reached out with love to one person at a time. I found some thoughts on agape love that speak to this idea of loving in small ways…
~ “Agape’s object is always the concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. Love of humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging.” ― Peter Kreeft, ‘Love’, ‘Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics’, 1988.
Isn’t this so true? Oh, we can sincerely pray for, care about, and suffer with all of humanity. But loving the individual is more difficult, more demanding of us. We grieve for the two million people worldwide who have died from this pandemic, but our grief becomes raw when we hear the personal stories of victims or lose a loved one ourselves. We donate to World Hunger, but hesitate to feed the man on the street corner. I speak and write to support LGTBQ students, but I hesitate to offer a much-needed support group for them. Loving others on a personal level requires more of us.
~ “Just as God, above all, is free of every need and self-interest, the spiritual man who has the Spirit struggles and becomes perfected in the love according to Christ, love that is delivered of all need and self-interest.” ― John Romanides.
Loving generously comes easily when we hope to be loved in return. Our loving acts may even be an effort to persuade someone to like us or do something for us. When we love others with agape love, we love with no expectation, no self-interest. We then love better, because we can love with the right amount of love to make good differences in the lives of others. We love best when we can reach out but also know when to leave alone. Help but not enable. Care but not smother. Raise up and let go. We love with a selfless love that is not about us, but genuinely about the good of others.
“Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy. Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love. Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful. Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful.” ― Rob Bell.
There are people we find so easy to love, and there are those we find difficult to love, even a little bit. We are called to love the undeserving, the difficult, the enemy, the one who hates us. These are the ones we try to convince ourselves, “don’t even matter to us.” They matter to God. They matter to God as much as we matter to God. We learn to love them with agape love, when we realize that we are “little bits” greatly loved by God, too. God’s love is what makes us worthy and beautiful. Sharing God’s love will offer the same for others.
May we remember all the ways Jesus has loved us greatly, by loving us with every little bit. May we then share that love with everyone – individually, selflessly, and graciously.
Our reading for tomorrow will be Hebrews 4:14 and 10:23.
Quotes found at 30+ Best Agape Love Quotes About Unconditional Love by Kidadl
Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com