agape-logoI pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:18-19

There was a time when I was young that I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on trying to be a Christian. It didn’t come for any lack of trying! I tried hard! I went to church twice on Sunday, taught a Sunday School class, and returned for more once or twice during the week. I tried hard to live a good moral life, a Christian life as I understood it, but was feeling empty. I frequently felt like the little child plucking petals from a daisy and saying, “God loves me, God loves me not”.

I imagined that God did love me on my better days, but was otherwise pretty ticked off with me. Which meant I would try harder and harder, but wasn’t sure how much longer I could last. Then I began to know “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. I began to understand that God loved me in ways beyond human knowing. In fact, God’s love for you and me even called for another word to describe it.

The most common word for love in Jesus and His apostles’ world was the Greek, eros. Eros had two principal characteristics: it was love of the worthy, and a love that desired to possess. (See New Testament scholar Leon Morris, Testaments of Love) Now, twenty centuries later it’s still eros that makes the world goes round. A man meets a woman and finds her beautiful and desirable. In time he discovers that she is also possessed of great inner beauty and strength. So he tells her that he loves her; i.e. he finds her worthy and desires to possess her. He has eros for her.

It is significant that in the New Testament the Holy Spirit forbade use of the word eros. Eros is never used to define and declare the Gospel of God’s love. God’s love called for another word to encompass “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. The New Testament writers found that word in agape. Agape was seldom used in secular Greek, but the New Testament took it over and expanded its meaning in radical ways.

Whereas eros is a love of the worthy and a desire to possess, “agape is in contrast at both points: It is not a love of the worthy, and it is not a love that desires to possess. On the contrary, it is a love quite irrespective of merit, and it is a love that seeks to give.” (Leon Morris, Testaments of Love). Thus, agape is frequently translated as “unconditional love”. God loves you no matter what! The One who loves you needs nothing from you! God loves you not to possess you, but to give to you. Eros thirsts, agape overflows!

God simply loves you! He just does! He can’t help Himself! There’s no, “He loves me; He loves me not”, with God. Because “God is love” (1 John 4:16), He can do nothing but love you. Agape, self-giving, unconditional love is not merely one of God’s attributes, but His essence, His very nature. God does not have to try to love you, or maintain love for you. Love is His very substance. His love for you originates in who He is, not in who you are. His love is not human love taken to a higher degree, the ultimate eros. God is agape love.

Overflowing love. Sacrificial love that does not seek to possess, but only to give and to sacrifice, even death on the Cross.

Now, years later, I sometimes I think “He loves me; He loves me not”. I sometimes still project onto God my own thoughts and feelings about myself. But more and more, with the Spirit’s help, I live in the wonderful freedom of knowing that God loves me, and that He always will. I hope you know it too!

Grace and peace, and agape,
Tim

 

LOVE BEYOND YOUR CONTROL

On April 25, 2016 By

O give thanks to the LORD for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures for ever…
[…]

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THERE’S HOPE!

On April 18, 2016 By

In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good […]

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LET HIM EASTER IN US

On April 11, 2016 By

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are […]

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THE GRAMMAR OF FAITH

On April 4, 2016 By

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in […]

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Today’s eVotional is a transcript of the message Tim Smith delivered at Water from Rock’s seventh annual Good Friday worship service, on March 25, 2016. Celebrants in the worship service included Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Non-Denominational.

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For the next few moments I want to read between […]

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A TIME FOR WORSHIP

On February 8, 2016 By

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and […]

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ARE WE THERE YET?

On February 1, 2016 By

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and […]

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THE APOSTOLIC SWAGGER

On January 25, 2016 By

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.
2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Theologian David Upshaw tells of the “apostolic swagger” seen in the early Christians as they moved out […]

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OVER THE TARGET

On January 18, 2016 By

Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the […]

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