Mark Buchanan, in his book, “Hidden in Plain Sight” does a masterful job of describing God’s love, agape love. This is the willed, volitional, desired love by which God designed us.
According to Buchanan, conditional love is predicated on our desires and expectations. If you are good, if you please me, if you return love to me, if you are beautiful and you remain beautiful, then I will love you. With conditional love, decision follows emotion: I feel love; therefore I will love.
Agape works just the opposite. With agape, emotion follows decision. Agape is not emotionless - no love is - but its emotion is the fruit of decision: I will love; therefore I feel love.
Actually, agape is even more hardy and stubborn than that: it wills love even in the face of fierce resistance. Agape chooses to love, not just before there is emotion, but sometimes in spite of other emotions that otherwise come naturally. It loves in the face of betrayal, in the face of rejection, in the face of evasion, in the face of rank badness. It wills love even when circumstances trigger instincts of anger or hurt, withdrawal or revenge. Agape builds its house, often, in the ruins.
Agape, then is not a because of love; it’s an “in spite of” love. It exists free of conditions, fuelled by something within itself rather than evoked by something outside itself. Agape love, when all is said and done is unprovoked love. I saw on MSN this morning that Jennifer Aniston was caught committing a “random act of kindness.” This was all the rage a few years ago and it’s good. It's certainly better than nothing. On the other hand, Christ’s love causes in people "deliberate" and “continuous” acts of kindness. It creates in people a perseverance in doing good in areas where being loved is often foreign to the circumstance.
Agape is unprovoked love; it seeks those who never saw it coming, who never had it coming, who never sought it out. It shows up unannounced, unexpected, undeserved. That’s what atheists cannot tolerate. Hitler doesn’t deserve God’s love. Ted Bundy doesn’t deserve God’s love. What atheists miss is that none of us deserve God’s love. Yet He gives it anyway, for God IS love. God’s love, agape love pursues us, and even when unrequited, pursues us still. We live in an angry, angry world where pain and suffering are more than common.
So why would a whole group of people push away the Source of Love, Comfort and Guidance? I believe that it's because atheists mistakenly view difficulties, even suffering as a sign that love is not present. Easy means love. Hard means no love. They couldn't be more wrong.
We attribute acts of unprovoked anger or violence to some moral flaw in the perpetrator. Something has gone wrong in childhood. Something important is missing. The person is angry for a reason.
Unprovoked love works the same. When we witness it we must attribute it to something inside the perpetrator, some moral perfection, something complete, something solid, some deep and astonishing good that has been placed there by the author and perfecter of love, Creator God Himself. God’s love is love for no reason, love beyond reason. Agape love is a choice, a willed, volitional desire to be good to one’s neighbours. That’s how God loves. He causes it to rain on the godly and the ungodly. “All good things are from above, coming down to us from the Father of heavenly lights, in whom there is no changing or shifting like shadows.”
Thank you Lord for your love. Cause me, Heavenly Father to be an instrument of Your love. Remove from me my anger. Take from me meanness and disregard. Change me Father. Change me. Amen
We’re off to the mountains for a couple weeks so thanks for the conversations folks. God bless.