“Agape means nothing sentimental or basically affectionate. It means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. . . . When we rise to love on the agape level, we love men not because we like them, not because their attitudes and ways appeal to us, but because God loves us.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”- Romans 2:21 (NIV)
As Tina Boesch concludes Chapter 8 of Given, she talks about what happens when we bless our enemies. Instead of accepting the evil of the present, we plead with the Lord to transform everyone involved. And, even when instances compel us to confront violence, abuse, or injustice, love must drive the internal attitude that motivates our words and actions. Because our aim targets redemption, not damnation.
Most noteworthy, this type of love is strong, not weak. Rather than stooping to hatred’s level, it looks hatred in the eye. As a result, such love avoids external violence. Also, Martin Luther King Jr. once noted that love also avoids the “internal violence of the spirit.”
Furthermore, the agape love Jesus embodied becomes excruciatingly hard. For it involves the surrender of the self to redeem others. Therefore, Tina observes, we must do more than bless through gritted teeth. Or mumble a few kind words as we harbor anger in our hearts. Hence, the author exhorts, the battle to forgive, love, and bless begins with what we believe and say. And in prayer, the Holy Spirit uproots the bitterness and pride that so easily morphs into prejudice. John O’ Donohue writes in To Bless the Space Between Us:
“A blessing does not erase the difficult nor abolish it; but it does reach deeper to draw out the hidden fruit of the negative. The old problems do not evaporate, but become transformed under the persuasion of the soul’s new affection.”
Today’s question: How do you extend the agape love of Jesus to others? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Before the cross became blessing”