How Do I Love
So how do I love those I don’t even like? As Christians, we are taught to love our fellow man – brothers and sisters. It’s not easy. But in these ever-changing – sometimes dark – times we must love more than ever.
We must also learn to forgive those who bring us harm or may have less than good intentions where our lives are concerned. Anything less than complete forgiveness leaves us burdened by potential bitterness and resentment – sentiments that only foster more of the same. They leave us paralyzed, powerless and unable to do anything constructive including working toward a solution.
What good can come from freely churning in my head the insults of others when even the ones inflicting are unaware? Why should I allow bitterness to reside rent- free in my head?
“Forgiftness is a gift I give myself. It’s a key that opens two hearts.” MDMcDMD
It’s not difficult to tout the virtues of forgiveness – not nearly as difficult as granting it, to those who intend us egregious harm.
For example, how do we forgive the seemingly thoughtless actions of Syrian President Basher al Assad this past week. Mr. Assad committed the unthinkable act of using the nerve agent sarin on Syrian citizens inflicting unconscionable harm, even killing scores of children and adults. The United States was forced to launch a tactical response with dozens of missile strikes. And that may be just a warning of more to follow.
What about the civil unrest in campaigns all over the US including womens’ rights or black lives matter? There’s certainly awareness but how do we get to love and forgiveness?
Awareness + Action = Change.
How, when, and where do we forgive? And to whom do we grant the forgiveness when the trail of tears winds back through decades of history? Where does the fault lie in countless grievances, and as many resentments, that forged the emotional constructs of this current political climate?
Our Goal As Christians
It is love and forgiveness that our Father asks of us. Just as He loves and forgives us, through Christ, in our past, present, and future.
Love Forms Shaping Our World
Agape love is what the world needs now. We’ve always known it. The need certainly arose long before the Coca-Cola ad campaign of the 70s.
Agape love is a Greco-– Christian term referring to “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and man for God.”
The Bible speaks of several types of love. Philein or Phileo love is the love that Philadelphia was named for… brotherly love. It’s a love associated with deep abiding friendship.
Eran or Eros is another type of love; it’s the root word of erotic and thus refers to a love related to sex. “Eros” love is that which exists within a marriage.
Storge or Stergein love is the love between siblings and family members. It is the instinctual love a mother has for her baby. It is associated with strong feelings of family relationships.
Agapan or Agape love is the unconditional love that God has for His children. Agape love is not like the love between a husband and wife or that of brotherly love. Nor does it have anything to do with sex. It is the most self-sacrificing form of love and was displayed on the cross by Jesus Christ.
God so loved (agapao) the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Agape love is the highest, most supreme form of love. It is a love where one is willing to die for another, even if that person is sinful, unworthy, undeserving – even the enemy of the one who died for them.
Wisdom of Experience
One of my beloved mentors, Richard B. Fratianne, MD https://books.google.com/books/about/What_Has_Prayer_Got_to_Do_with_Anything.html?id=twgPMQAACAAJ&hl=en describes agape love as unconditional or sacrificial love that can only be inspired by faith in God. It must be freely given and freely received. While remaining unconditional and sacrificial, it is not dependent on the one being loved to accept or return it. It always transforms the lover and the beloved when it is accepted.
By accepting a love as strong as agape, miraculous results can be realized such as restoration of self-esteem or the rebuilding of faith. One can’t help but be transformed!
Agape love also always makes the lover vulnerable. It’s not easy to subjugate our instinct of self-preservation. It requires an intense level of commitment to “live the relationship” resulting in “profound transformation.” The lover is open to being hurt if the love is not returned. Yet, agape love is given willfully without conditions.
“God is agape love and agape love is God. No one can truly live the agape love relationship unless God loved that person first!” Richard B. Fratianne, MD
The difference between unbelievers and believers is that the the former are without hope. Thus, like the symbolic image of the cross (faith), heart (love), and anchor (hope), agape love is the embracing of all three virtues, characterizing man’s relationship with God.
Even those claiming to be atheist or agnostic are capable of loving enough to sacrifice and empathize – even forgive those who’ve done them harm. To live and love at this depth is all but proof the lover has faith in a power greater than themselves – the essence of such a love. They must believe in something yet they remain unaware!
Genesis of a New Day
We don’t have to agree or even like everyone. But we should make every effort to love and forgive them as brothers and sisters in Christ. What the world needs now is agape love. It’s a tall order indeed. But the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
A relationship begins with one person willing to give, as another receives.
How do you see the world in these troubling times? Where do we begin? I welcome your thoughts and insight.