Agape: A Love Dare

I dare you. Try to imagine a world with no love. None at all. What would our world be like if the capacity to love simply did not exist—if God had somehow left love entirely out of His creation blueprint? It’s not a pretty scenario, is it? Goodbye, Valentine’s Day—and Christmas, for that matter. No hugs and kisses from your Mrs. or anyone else. If things seem dark as they are in our world, remove any glimmer of love from the horizon, and the screen of our imagination turns pitch black. 

Most folks realize that our world wouldn’t last long without love. A world without love would be a recipe for constant chaos and doom. We agree that love is essential. We all need to be loved. The problem is there are all sorts of misconceptions about what love really is. Is love simply an emotion of affection or a feeling of attraction or infatuation or devotion? What many today call love is actually an attempt to redefine and disguise the depravity of their sensual lust. 

If you are serious about discovering what true love is all about, I dare you to take this advice—go to the Source! Why? Because God Himself is love (I John 4:8). He is the Source of love, and His character defines what love is: 

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9–10, ESV). 

Agapē (pronounced ah-GAH-pay) is the familiar Greek noun used in these verses (twice) along with the related verb agapaō (ah-gah-PAW-oh; also twice). The word describes a love of choice and commitment—a love of sacrifice. It’s the word that describes God’s lavish love for the world of sinners in John 3:16. A few verses later, surprisingly, agapaō appears again describing the wrong choice that carries devastating implications: 

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). 

God, in Christ, chose to love the very ones who persisted in going their own way, refusing to return His love: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is an amazing love! “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (I John 3:16). The very night that He was betrayed, “… when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). 

Have you received this amazing love? If you have, I dare you to commit yourself to living a life of love—loving God and loving others sacrificially. The greatest commandment of all is to love God above everything else (Mark 12:30, 33). Then, we are called to love one another (see Matthew 22:37–39; Romans 13:8; I John 3:11, 23)—even our enemies (Matthew 5:44; cf. Luke 6:35). This kind of love does not originate within ourselves—it is the love of Jesus flowing through us (John 13:34). Take the love dare.  

Dr. Jerry Moan, a member of FLBCS faculty, teaches a course on the Gospel of John. 

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