Tag Archives: Agape

The Journey of Love

Peninsula Community Church

The Journey of Love

December 10, 2017 

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Last week we looked at the idea of the wisemen taking a journey to find the Christ child. They looked for one thing, but found another. They were looking for a king and a warrior, but what they found was a baby and what a baby He was! This child was about to do what no other person in the history of the world could do. He was about to save the world and bring to each person who trusts Him hope, love, joy, and peace.

Last week, we looked at the idea of hope and the light that shines into the darkness. This week we will look at the power of Christ’s love that came to set us free. From the early writings of the New Testament, we find that John recognized a truth that is needed in our life today. We need love. We need true love and not a facsimile or imitation love. As John penned these words, he recognized the source of our love is the One who came to save us. Listen to the words again. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

The passage begins with for God so loved. He loved. He loved the world. This term world here is the term KOSMOS. It was a word that meant universe and/or adornment. In the New Testament, it was also used to describe man in his fallen state that resulted from the sin and the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Thus, we could say that God so loved mankind that even in his fallen state He sent His only Son to save man from his failures and from being a fallen creation of God.

Notice too, that He did not come to condemn the world. The world was already condemned and was living life in shambles. Most were well aware of their difficulties and their sin. Additionally, many were living hedonistic lives apart from God. While proclaiming to be fulfilled, free, and at peace, they struggled with their identity and self-esteem. The fact is, they were living life devoid of real love. Does that sound familiar in our society today?

The blessing we have is that in our self-centered, self-focused life, we can find that His love reorients us to His purpose and plan. His love reorients us to the destiny He has for us and He empowers us to fulfill the purposes we have been created to achieve. So what kind of love does Christ offer? To understand this it would behoove us to consider the words used in the Greek to define love. Unlike our English language, the Greeks had four words to describe love.

The first of these words is Eros. This is defined as erotic love. This is the love that is engaged through body chemistry and is relegated to feelings. Eros love is focused on others but only as others fulfill their desires. The motto of this kind of love is “I love you because you make me happy,” but “if you cease to make me happy, then I will no longer love you.” This kind of love is based on a characteristic in the other person that brings pleasure, but if that characteristic ceases to exist, the reason for love is gone. Eros love looks most often for what it can receive and not give. Many of us have experienced this kind of love. As long as we are giving and we look a certain way, we are accepted and loved. As long as we meet another’s expectations, we are loved. But let changes come and that love is diminished.

Secondly, there is Phileo love which is a brotherly or friendship love. This speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. Phileo love responds to kindness, appreciation, or another’s love. It involves giving as well as receiving, but when it is strained it can collapse in a crisis. How many have had a friendship fall apart because of a disagreement or problem? What you thought you had was quickly destroyed.

Thirdly, there is Storge which is the love that has its basis in one’s own nature. This love is based in one’s natural affections. It is the natural movement of the soul for a husband, a wife, a child, or even a dog. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man that rests on something close to him and that he feels good about. If Storge love is not centered in Christ, our feelings can cause us to move toward unhealthy and immoral love. We see this today in many of the issues we face. Romans 1 speaks of a generation that would seek that which goes against their nature because they reject the truth. Their passion for unnatural affection has lead them to be be deceived and destroyed. Their hearts have been darkened.

Then we have Agape love. Agape love is focused on the preciousness of the object loved. This speaks to the character of God! It carries the idea of prizing. It is not kindled by one’s personal merit or worth. Agape love delights in giving. Agape love keeps on giving when the one being loved is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. Agape love desires only good for the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of the other person. So let us look at our text this morning in view of Agape love.

First of all, His love is based in the preciousness of the object loved. He loves us because He believes that we are precious in His sight. Remember the song we sang in children’s church so many years ago. Jesus loves the children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children.

We are precious because we are a creation of God. Therefore, we have value and we have significance. One of the great lies of the enemy is to get us to believe that we are less valuable than we are, or that we do not have any significance in this life. I can tell you this morning that you are precious in His sight and He extends His love to us as a result. The Psalmist said “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Who is the “we?” It is you and I. If we agree that we are a creation of God, then we must accept that we have value and significance. We must rise up and live like we believe it. We are not talking about a sense of false security or pride, but rather the truth enveloped in Christ’s love for us.

You see value is given to person or object by the one who adores or loves it. In the case before us today, God loves us and has added great value to us as a person. That is Agape love. Agape love places a high value on us as a person. In 1973 I bought a used 1970 Dodge Charger. I paid $900 for it. That was considered to be the value assigned that car, at that time. In 1976, when I left for Bible college, I sold the car for $4000. The value in someone’s mind had gone up. Today, I have seen similar 1970 Dodge Chargers sell for over $100,000. Why? Because someone has given a greater value to the car. Let me tell you, we have a Father and an elder brother named Jesus who has assigned value to your life and no matter what someone else tells you, and no matter what you think, you are valuable and you are worth more than you know.

Secondly, this kind of love is not kindled by meriting His love nor is it based on one’s idea of self-worth, but it is solely the action of one doing the loving. Here is the amazing thing about Agape love. It is not conditioned on the one receiving the love, it is fully based in the one giving the love. With that in mind, think about this. The perfect, eternal, faithful God has loved you and has assigned value to your life, no matter what you may have done. No matter what condition you are in, you are valuable to Him. It is for that reason that no matter where you are, He is reaching out to you. How can a car that was worth $900 in 1972 be worth over a $100,000 today? It is because someone saw value in the car. Most of these cars have been rescued from backyards, junkyards, and from the side of the road. The car had nothing to offer but the master mechanic stepped up and repaired the brokenness in the car. That is what Christ has done for us. He saw us on the trash heap of life, He saw value in us and He came to save and redeem us.

Thirdly, Agape love delights in giving. There is an amazing joy that comes in giving to others. Know this, God counts it all joy to love you and give you all you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He delights in you. Think about that, the God of heaven delights in you. He loves you and wants to minister to you in a way that will enrich your life. He does not withhold His blessing from those He loves, but rather He lavishes His love upon us. John succinctly stated See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are (1 John 3:1). The Greek shows us that the work has already been done. He has lavished His great love on us as a completed work. We do not work for it. We simply accept the work already done on our behalf.

Fourth, Agape love keeps on giving when the one being loved is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. Here is the most amazing thing about God’s love. It is unshakable. The greatest fear in our life is that we have failed God or that somehow God cannot or should not love us because of what we might have done. This also means that there is no place to hide from the power of His love. The Psalmist stated that he could run to heaven or to the depths of the earth but there He finds God and where God is, there is His love (Psalm 139:8).

Fifth and finally, because of Agape love, He desires to have a relationship with you. He is not interested in an Eros love relationship that is secure as long as you are pleasing Him. He does not love you for what you can offer Him and when you cease pleasing Him He will discard you. He is not looking for friendship love that might be diminished when there is a problem or a difficulty. He is not looking for a love based on the naturalness of our nature that can easily change based on the condition of our heart. Christ is looking for a deeper relationship. He is looking for a personal, real, ongoing, and life changing relationship with you. It is out of this relationship that we realize that He loves us and that He has our best interest in mind. In this relationship, we can experience His love and the magnitude of His grace to us. It is because of this love that He promises not to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). It is because of this love that we can also be assured that we cannot be separated from the love of God.

Let me close with this verse, so that we hear for ourselves the power of God’s love in Romans 8:31-39. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is Agape love defined!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ephesians – What Kind Of Lover Are You?

Peninsula Community Church

What Kind of Lover are You?

April 12, 2015

Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I have entitled this message “What Kind of Lover are You?” The purpose of the title was chosen in part to grab people’s attention but to also emphasize the key word in this passage which is love. Language has always been an interesting tool of communication. What and how we communicate often varies depending on what region or area we live in or where we were raised. Think about it. Depending on where you were raised you will order a soda, a pop, or a coke at a restaurant. You will eat a hero, a hoagie, a grinder, or a sub.

The problem with various languages and dialects is that if we do not understand the language we will miscommunicate with others. I can illustrate this in a very personal way. In 1995, I had the privilege to lead a mission team to Morelia, Mexico. While there, I was trying so hard to learn the language and communicate the best I could in Spanish. At the end of dinner, one evening, our host asked if I were still hungry. In my feeble attempt to reply in Spanish, instead of using the word for hungry which is HAMBRE, I used the word for man which is HOMBRE. So, I ended up saying “This was so good that I am no longer a man.” Needless to say, the host and those around the table got a good chuckle at my expense.

As we have noted before, the Greek language was a wonderful language as specific words were used to define specific actions or ideas. By properly defining these words we can understand what the Bible is communicating in a more precise manner. The key word in this passage is love, but if we interpret the word love only through the template of the English language, we can misunderstand what love in this context means. The reason is that the word love is used for almost anything and everything. In regard to the word love in the Greek language, there are three primary words for love. There was the word PHILEO which is brotherly love. There was the word EROS which is a sensual or sexual love. And then there is AGAPE which is the love initiated by God and it is a love that is self-sacrificing. Agape is the word that is used here in this passage. Paul was intentional about using the word Agape and not PHILEO or Eros. He wanted us to love with a love that only God could create and reveal.

In thinking of agape love, the first idea to be considered is that agape love is a sacrificial love. Paul states “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” He left the splendor of heaven to come as a humble servant to give Himself as the sacrifice for our sin. To live in agape love, we must place not only our wife’s needs before our needs but other’s needs as well. This does not mean that we are not concerned about our needs, it means that we are not self-absorbed with our needs. Paul describes this sacrificial love in Philippians. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8). Jesus’ love for the church is graphically represented through His death on the cross. Our love for our spouse will be best demonstrated through the sacrificial giving of ourselves to them. To be sacrificial means we consider our spouses ideas and we listen to her concerns and then do our best to fulfill those needs where possible. So, are you a sacrificial lover?

Second, agape love is a caring love. Paul proclaims that as the man cherishes and nourishes his own body, he must nurture and cherish his wife. To nourish something is to feed it. This is accomplished by feeding our spouse on every level: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It means that we are aware and considerate of her feelings. The second idea presented by Paul is that the man is to cherish his wife. The word cherish carries the idea of warmth or kindness. It is used of a mother who holds her baby close to her body. It is the idea of being gentle and caring. When our spouse is wounded or hurt emotionally, spiritually, or physically; we must nourish and cherish them back to health. This is not the time to say to her suck it up and get over it. It is also not a time to ignore her or minimize what she is experiencing.

I have in my hands a violin. Suppose for a moment that this is a Stradivarius violin. I read recently that an original Stradivarius violin just sold for more than 10 million dollars. Let me ask you, how would you treat this violin especially if it were a valuable Stradivarius. Would you toss it around? Would you hand it off to others and let them play with it? Or, would you cherish it and care for it because you realize you have something of value in your hands. Well let me say this; our spouses and loved ones are more valuable than any violin made by human hands. They are a creation of God and that makes them highly valuable. We must therefore treat them as the valuable gift they are. So, are you a caring lover?

Thirdly, agape love is a committed love. This commitment is implied in the fact that Paul states a husband is to leave his mother and his father to cleave to his wife. The two are to become one flesh. They are to be committed to each other. We must understand that commitment is much more than sexual purity even though that is critical. To understand commitment, we must understand that it must be a realistic commitment. Two people on their wedding day may seem to be so perfect but the fact is they will have problems and they will encounter issues after they are married. A true commitment remains steady regardless of what is happening in the marriage. This commitment is also a growing commitment. Our commitment does not run on auto pilot. It must be nurtured. We must also understand that this commitment is a total commitment. We don’t hold anything back. We must include our spouses in every major decision we make. We are a team. So, are you a committed lover?

Fourth, agape love must be demonstrated. Agape love can only be known by the actions prompted by it. We are to love others as we love ourselves. For men, Paul is not suggesting that we learn to love ourselves as much as he is pointing out that men generally already love themselves pretty well. You see it is not the content of our love that matters as much as it is the intensity of our love. Think about this for a moment. What if we approached loving our wives with the same intensity we approach our golf game, our love for hunting, sports, other leisure activities, or our jobs? Would it make a difference? You bet it would. We need to understand that our words and our promises can be worthless. It is our actions that make a difference. Commit to love and keep that love burning bright. So, are you a committed lover?

Fourth, agape love is an engaged love. To be engaged means we seek to protect our spouse and shield them from things that would harm them or cause them to walk in sin. We are not to be passive observers in this process but we are be connected and engaged. The story of Adam and Eve is a reminder of this need. Do you remember who received the word from God? It was Adam. Adam communicated God’s purpose and plan to Eve but, when it mattered most, he left Eve in the lurch and she succumbed to the temptation brought by the serpent. What do you think would have happened if Adam had been the man he should have been and stepped in when the serpent was tempting Eve? This world would certainly be a better place. One way to do this is to establish an atmosphere that leads our spouse toward sanctification and holiness. This is not something that is forced but it is modeled and lived out. We must be engaged in our relationship with our spouses. Our wives especially need to know we are engaged. So, are you an engaged lover?

As we bring this to a close let me ask you. What kind of lover are you? Are you a sacrificial lover? Are you a caring lover? Are you a committed lover? Are you an intense lover? Are you a lover who is engaged? By doing these things you will not be perfect but you will enhance your relationship and strengthen your marriage. Christ was all of these things and more to us. He charted the course for us and He made the way possible for us to become the kind of lover that builds and not destroys. He modeled what it means to be sacrificial and not self-centered.

Before we pray, let me tell you that each of you are a creation of God. You have been bought with a price. You are valuable. No matter where you fall in the love spectrum, you can begin again and start over. That is the beauty of the risen Lord which we celebrated last week.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized