By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds July/August 2021)
Ancient Greek had a number of different words which we translate into English today as “love”, but they all had slightly different meanings.
One of those words was “Agape”. (It’s pronounced “a-ga-pay”.) This is the love God has for us and which God desires we have for each other – or so it suggests in 1 John 4:7 (“let us love (agape) one another for love (agape) is of God”).
This agape love is an unconditional love; it persists regardless of all circumstance, and is more than a feeling – it is an utter commitment to seek the best for another. No matter what we do or feel, God’s agape love for us and for each and all life is unshakable, beyond breakable.
Agape love is also more than a benign affirmation; it is an active state in which the Spirit moves and works. Sometimes, truly seeking the best for ourselves or another in the sense of agape love, can be pretty tough, but it is the foundation of being and building God’s Realm on earth.
Coming out of lockdown is hitting many people hard. We battled through the pandemic, but the new normal is still shifting.
We are all changed people, and many are weary. Just as people who travel in countries with great poverty often find their biggest culture shock is coming home (to wasted clean water and supermarkets full of food), so our arrival back into the new normal may well be trickier and more traumatic than girding ourselves to cope with the crisis.
Whatever is going on in our lives and world, it is helpful to remember and trust that whatever we feel and worry about, God’s unshakable and unconditional agape love surrounds and fills all things; it is for us, and is longing to be released through us towards ourselves, others and all life on earth.
“agape love is an invitation to find hope and resilience even in the most difficult times”
In the same passage in 1 John 4, the writer also says: “Perfect love casts out fear.” I think choosing to focus and trust God’s agape love is an invitation to find hope and resilience even in the most difficult times, which help to overcome our deepest fear.