Friday, November 18, 2011

AGAPE Dinner

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Colossians 3:12-14
For over two decades North Side Baptist Church has celebrated the blessing of fellowship with our AGAPE Dinner.  This time together has been a time to acknowledge and express that which binds us together...Christian love.

In a biblical sense, the term love has a precise and profound meaning.  Three words are used in the New Testament to convey the meaning of love: storge, philia, and agape.  Eros — which had come to have sexual connotations in Jesus' day — is not used by New Testament writers.  Generally philia has to do with affection between friends; storge relates to love in family relations; but agape has a unique meaning.

Love is called the "higher way" or “more excellent way” in I Corinthians 12:31.  The Christian life is summed up in Paul's statement: "faith working through love" in Galatians 5:6.  It is found to be greater than faith and hope in I Corinthians 13:13.  Scripture defines the very nature of God by saying, “God is love.”

Jesus took this ancient, colorless term to the laundry, cleaned it up and filled it with new content. Agape is not merely liking someone. It is not a sentimental love; it is a matter of the will and therefore can be commanded.

Jesus, then, gave love a new and distinctive meaning.  It means to will the well-being of the other.  This involves, among other things, other's health, and happiness; a recognition of the dignity and worth of the other; the granting of the basic rights of the other.  This is why love always needs defining from the Christian perspective.  A. C. Craig puts it: "The word 'love' always needs a dictionary and for the Christian the dictionary is Christ.  He took this chameleon of a word and gave it a fast color, so that ever since it has been lustred by his life and teaching, and dyed in the crimson of Calvary, and shot through with the sunlight of Easter morning." 

The love of God in the individual's heart must radiate as widely as God's love.  It suffers with friends and enemies. Love in the biblical sense requires involvement in meeting human need.  John, the apostle, makes it clear that genuine love gets involved with neighbor needs.  He says: "If anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" (I John 3:17).

Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you that you also love one another."(John 13:34)  Here the measure or ground of one's love is not that of self, but Christ Himself.  To love others as you love yourself is calculating ethic.  To love as Christ loves is sacrificial and selfless. 

And so, this weekend we celebrate AGAPE love.  During this time we will share how it has affected our lives in its expressions of ministry and compassion.  Testimonies will declare how this love has redeemed, restored and blessed the lives of those in our congregation.  This love has produced ministries to those in need and taken the gospel around the world.  May God bless all who join together this weekend.

Scripture to Claim:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

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