[dropcap]In last month's column, I asked you to identify the Greek word for the english "love" used in the two greatest commandments given by Jesus. I also gave you extended definitions for the Greek "love" words used in the Bible: phileō, storgē, and agapē. If you need to review those definitions, they are here - "Confident Faith June 2017" at https://cookbc.org/staff-columns/apologetics/388-confident-faith-june-2017.
I have asked these questions of many Christians over the years. Almost all get one right and one wrong.
Almost everyone correctly identifies "agapē" as the Greek behind "love" in the first greatest commandment - "Love the LORD your God ..." (Mark 12:30), and almost everyone incorrectly picks "phileō" as the Greek for "love" in the second commandment - "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). "Love" in the second commandment is exactly the same as in the first - Agapē!
Agapē is a completely unselfish and unearned giving based on the intrinsic worth of the other. Jesus is commanding us to love our neighbor in the very same Agapē used in John 3:16 where "God so loved (Agapē) the world ..." The same Agapē is used in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
From beginning to end, the Bible is the story of a radical and all but unfathomable love. Agapē is the eternal, selfless glue binding three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - in one unity of essence - God. Agapē was shared in our creation - "Let Us make man in Our image." If we are commanded to Agapē God, then aren't we to also Agapē His image stamped in our neighbor?
The world says all will be OK if we just "love our neighbor as ourself", but that will ultimately fail because the world does not know the Agapē love of God. The closest human example of Agapē should be a mother's love for her child, yet the world corrupts that love promoting abortion as a mother's right - Agapē turned to death.
We live in a society desperately wanting Agapē, but it cannot without first knowing God through the Gospel. We (the church) would not know Agapē were it not shown to us - "We love because he first loved us," 1 John 4:19.
No, the world will never know Agapē ... unless we 1) understand the command to Agapē our neighbor, and 2) show them in our actions and words.