Agape Love in the Words of St. Peter

Agape Love in the Words of St. Peter

Agape Love in the Words of St. Peter.

Since by your obedience to the Truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere agape love of the believers, see that you agape love one another passionately and with a pure heart, always unselfishly seeking the best for one another.” (1 Peter 1:22).

Agape Love – Agape love is the supreme of all the loves, and desires the highest good of someone else. Agape is “the highest level of love known to humanity,” (C. S. Lewis), and thus can only come from above with God as its source. Agape love is the ultimate expression of God’s nature, the essence of His character (see Exodus 34). Agape love is not Eros, which is romantic love. It is not Phileo, which is brotherly love. It is not Storge, which is family love. Agape love is the divine love that can only come to us from the heart of God. Agape love is the love shared between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is truly the source of all these other loves, but it is only agape love that is poured into our hearts from the Holy Spirit, to those who believe in Christ. Agape love is an eternal virtue outlasting all the other virtues (1 Corinthians 13:8). Agape love is the primary fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) Agape love, the sacred love of God, is universal, it is a gift, it is highly active, it is sacrificial, and it is unconditional.

UNIVERSAL: “For God so agape-loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who faithfully trusts into Him may have eternal life instead of being utterly destroyed.” (John 3:16). This seems too good to be true. But actually, because of God’s love, it is so good it has to be true. Creator God has an eternal love for all people. He didn’t send his Son for the sake of the privileged or elite. He doesn’t love just those who are religious or pious. God truly loves everyone in His creation, past, present and future; the righteous and the unrighteous; the worthy and the unworthy; the broken and the whole; those who have a lot to offer and those who don’t. He sent His Son for those who would love Him, and those who would hate Him; those who might accept Christ and those who might reject Him; those who would worship Jesus and those who would shout “Crucify Him!”  Not one person in the history of the world has had to qualify for God’s love, to somehow earn God’s love, to be considered worthy of His love. “For God so loved the world…” God took the initiative, God started the whole process of agape love. That kind of universal love is agape love, and is intended to spill out into the world through believers in Him.

A GIFT: For we know how dearly God agape-loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with agape love; God has poured out His agape love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us; We can now experience the endless agape love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” (Romans 5:5) The most virtuous person on the planet cannot manufacture agape love as if it’s merely a highly esteemed trait. We don’t have it in us. We aren’t born with the ability to show agape love. It is impossible for us to demonstrate agape love on our own, because it can only derive from God, and not from human nature. Agape love is an undeserved gift. Faith in God comes first, even a microscopic faith. And then agape is poured into our hearts as believers, and it then spreads to the world. This divine love being poured into our hearts is meant to be demonstrated to others through acts of mercy, kindness and compassion. This love, this affectionate yearning that others are blessed, spills over from our hearts only after being poured into our hearts through a faithful submission to the Lord. Through the Holy Spirit, agape love can realistically become second nature to us and in us, displacing the old lesser loves in a Christian’s life. Agape love is the means by which God’s divine love may reach the world. Agape love is an eternal virtue, and it lasts forever (1 Cor. 13:8). Agape love is the primary fruit of the Spirit, the divine love offered to us to spread God’s love to others. Love poured into us, love splashed out to others… God’s gift to us that we would offer that gift to others.

UNCONDITIONAL: God’s agape has always been offered to the world unconditionally, so that same divine love is offered to others in the same way. Our love for others is fleshed out by desiring the highest good for someone else. Our love doesn’t expect anything in return, it is a love that gives but doesn’t take. Our love does not seek out those who would somehow be worthy of love, or could earn God’s love. Agape love is that love which is offered to hateful enemies (Matthew 5:43-46), to those who love nothing better than to hurt you and disrespect you. Agape love even desires what’s best for those who hate God. Agape is offered freely, no strings attached, to all made in the image of God. When we love an image-bearer, we are honoring our Creator. Agape love tends to involve, sooner or later, forgiveness.

SACRIFICIAL: Agape love is the ultimate demonstration of unselfishness, of self-denial for the benefit of others. Agape develops the habit of forgetting yourself on purpose. It is the willingness to remain a daily martyr of goodwill, picking up one’s cross so others are blessed. Agape love sometimes is demonstrated at great personal cost. It could even mean giving up something that is rightfully ours so that someone else can receive something he probably hasn’t earned. The clearest and most profound example of sacrificial agape love was the death of the Innocent One, Jesus Christ, on the Cross. He gave up His life for those who didn’t deserve it, which includes all of humanity. “No one has greater agape love than a person who is willing to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

ACTIVE: Agape love is not theoretical, it is not abstract. It is not just a great idea ripe for discussion. Agape love actually does things, it acts out and demonstrates love. Agape doesn’t merely think about loving others with God’s love, agape fleshes out the love and makes it visible. Agape is filled with genuine empathy and not mere sentimentality. Feelings and emotions have nothing to do with agape love. Agape is an act of the will, a deliberate decision to demonstrate God’s love to others whether they deserve it or not, whether we “feel like it” or not. Agape loves what is best for someone else, which could mean accountability and a proper justice. It could mean mercy, too. That’s why agape love depends on the wisdom of God to discern what is best for someone else. Sometimes agape love is inactive, in the sense of not intervening, and stepping back if it is appropriate. Agape love is literally practical that way, and wants to put into play an imitation of Jesus as He knew when and what to say, what to do. Sometimes agape love appears to be rather inconsistent. We know that the Son of God was completely filled with agape love, and that He went around doing good, touching the untouchable, loving the unlovable, embracing the unclean, accepting those who were rejected, serving those who were unlovely and broken. If one wonders what agape love looks like in action, read the gospels and imitate Jesus. When we need to be reminded of what marks the life a true believer, we fix our eyes on Jesus and witness agape love in the flesh.

St. Peter talks about Agape Love:

“This proving of your faith is planned to bring you praise and honor and glory in the day when Jesus Christ reveals Himself. And though you have never seen Him, yet I know that you agape-love Him. At present you trust Him without being able to see Him, and even now He brings you a joy that words cannot express and which has in it a hint of the glories of Heaven; and all the time you are receiving the result of your faith in Him—the salvation of your own souls.” (1 Peter 1:8).

I beg you, beloved (Agapitos), as those whom I love with agape love, to live in this world as strangers and “temporary residents”, to keep clear of the desires of the flesh, for they are always at war with your souls.” (1 Peter 2:11).

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity and honor. Agape-Love your spiritual family, your brothers and sisters in the Faith. Revere God in fear and awe. Respect the government.”  (1 Peter 2:17).

Above all, have agape love for one another, because agape love covers over a multitude of sins through forgiveness and unselfishly seeking the best for others.” (1 Peter 4:8).

Beloved, all of you who I love with agape love, do not be amazed or bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test the quality of your faith, as though something strange or unusual were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12).

Greet your Christian brothers and sisters with an agape kiss of love. To all of you that are in Christ Jesus (the Messiah), may there be peace, especially peace with God, and freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts. Amen. That’s the truth!” (1 Peter 5:14).

For this very reason, adding your diligence to the divine promises, employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue, and in exercising virtue develop knowledge, and in exercising knowledge develop self-control, and in exercising self-control develop endurance, and in exercising endurance develop godly piety, and in exercising godly piety develop brotherly affection (philios), and in exercising brotherly affection develop agape love.” (2 Peter 1:7).

Beloved, my dear friends who I love with an agape love, don’t overlook the obvious here. With God, one day is as a thousand years, a thousand years is as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants all to be saved, giving everyone space and time to change.” (2 Peter 3:8).

But you, dear friends who I love with agape love, are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these deceptive and wicked teachers. Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes and Amen!” (2 Peter 3:17-18).