Way of Agape:
Why Is God's Love so Important?
by Nancy Missler
"Why does everyone make such a big issue about God's Love?" "What's so special about it? Why is it so important?" There is only one answer to these questions. 1 John 4:8 says, "God is Agape." This is why Agape Love is so special, so important, and why we are commanded to seek it with all of our heart, mind and soul.
There are a few more reasons why God's Love is so important to have and then to pass on to others. Let's explore them:
Meaning and Purpose of Our Lives
1) Having God's Love in our lives is the whole meaning and purpose of our Christian walk. The Bible says that God has called us to be Christians for two primary reasons: To love Him, and then to love others. (Matthew 22:37) We were not called to be "Christians" just to be happy and content within ourselves, but to be vessels and channels of God's Love-experiencing His Love first-hand, and then passing it on to others.
1 Timothy 1:5 says, Agape is the goal of our instruction and the fulfillment of all of God's Word in us! In other words, the whole Bible is summed up in our personally knowing and passing on God's Love!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [Agape], I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not [Agape], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not [Agape], it profiteth me nothing."
God is saying that without His Love, all the intellectual knowledge in the world, all the supernatural understanding in the world, and all the faith in the world will profit and benefit us nothing. Without His Love, we will still be empty, lonely and without meaning or purpose in our lives. Love is the reason God created us in the first place. And, thus, if we don't learn to love and be loved in the way God intends, we will have wasted our lives .
Many people recognize this far too late. After working hard their entire lives to reach their "own" aspired goals (to be happy, to have their own business, to have financial independence, etc.), they realize that in the process of attaining these things, they have lost the true meaning of their lives, which is love. Some of these people attained everything materially that anyone could ever possibly want, and yet they personally still remain empty and unfulfilled.
When Chuck was in the corporate world, I had several opportunities to talk to "successful" business executives who had done this very thing. Many said they would give anything to be able to live their lives over again. If they had a second chance, they said, they would be careful not to miss the most important thing in their life, which is love and relationships.
A newspaper article, written many years ago, told the story of a very wealthy and famous gentleman. Throughout his life, he thought love and relationships were just a nuisance and a deterrent to what "success" was all about. He thus determined to amass a fortune and make a name for himself. He certainly did both. But in the process, he lost all his relationships. And, in the end, when he was too old to work, he sat night after night, alone in his huge, empty mansion, filled with priceless-and yet worthless-possessions. He had missed the very reason he was created-to love and be loved.
Edgar Jackson wrote an excellent book called Understanding Loneliness. He shares that psychologists have now exchanged the word "identity" for the word "love." Love is our true identity and purpose. Without love we will be lost, in spite of all the fortune, power, prestige, and education we amass. Love must be the supreme and central issue of our lives or we will die psychologically, socially, spiritually, and even physically.
Christianity is unique, in that it is a religion of Love. Christianity has the answers that everyone is so desperate for-Jesus Christ is Love. (1 John 4:8) God has called us, as believers, to be His co-workers, His co-laborers, and His partners in spreading His gospel of Love to others. Our lives as Christians, then, are not just something to be enjoyed or to derive happiness from, but an opportunity to be an open vessel for God's Love. God has called us specifically for this purpose!
1 John 3:14 says, "He that loveth not...abideth in death." This means, if we are not loving, we are dying . We're dying because we are separated from the true meaning of our lives, which is Love.
How Will They Know We Are Christians?
2) Another reason God's Love is so important in our lives is because God's Love is the only way others will know and see that we are, indeed, Christians. "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another ." (John 13:35)
As we look around us-at our churches, our families, our friends, and our kids-we see that many are dying from a lack of love. Many of them are caught up in the "do's and don'ts" of Scripture, the prophecies, the gifts, the healings, the miracles, the "work" of faith, the signs and wonders, etc., but where is God's Love? Scripture says, "They will know we are Christians by our Love." Where is God's Love today?
How can we be Spirit filled and yet not Love filled? To me they're the very same thing! God's Love is simply the glue that holds everything together. And, it's missing! 1 John 2:4 says, "He that saith 'I know Him,' [I am a Christian], and keepeth not His commandments, [to love one another] is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
God's Love doesn't just "fall out of heaven." His Love must come through us. We are extensions of God's Love to one another. God just needs a willing body-arms and legs-to pour His Love through.
Larry Crabb, in his book, Inside Out, shares that Christians can spend years in the Bible developing a real love for the truth; but, he says, if they come away without knowing God in a deeper and more real way and without His Love for people, then they will have wasted their time. The whole purpose of Bible is to make us more loving, not more scholarly. David Needham (Birthright ) confirms this same thought: "...the big task is not the finding of the truth, but the living of it!" To me, this says it all!
It's only Jesus' Love through us-in our actions-that will bring our families, our husbands, our children, our neighbors, and our bosses to the feet of Jesus. Since God is Love, the only way these people will know that we are, indeed, Christians is by the "real" Love that comes from us.
1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all things have fervent Love among yourselves; for Love shall cover the multitude of sins." This simply means that if we hear something bad about a brother, if we are walking in true Agape, we will take it no further. We will take it to the Lord first, pray about it, and, if need be, go to that brother to find out the truth, but real Love will not pass that sin on to another (gossip).
A nonbeliever said to me recently, "I really don't want to go to that church anymore because the people there are just a bunch of phonies. I work with 'so and so' (a church goer) and you should see what he does during the rest of the week! How can he call himself a Christian?"
It's interesting to me that nonbelievers know the "real thing" when they see it. They can spot the "phonies" a mile away. I find this fascinating, since we ourselves are often fooled by our so-called "brothers and sisters." So often God must combat, not only unbelief in a person, but also unravel all the damage other "so-called" Christians have done. When asked what the greatest obstacle to Christianity in India was, Mahatma Gandhi answered, "Other Christians."
It's only God's genuine Love through us that can truly touch another's life and bring them to Jesus. Our flowery and empty words about Jesus are not enough. Our actions must match our words in order for it to be truth. In other words, we need to "live His Love."
Proof of Abiding in God
3) God's Love is also important because it proves we are abiding in God . John 15 is a wonderful chapter-totally devoted to what it means to abide in God. It says that abiding in God is simply staying in His Love and remaining in His Presence. Continually presenting our wills and lives to Him, so that He can use us to pass His Love on to others.
A Greek scholar friend of ours, who studied The Way of Agape, pointed out to me that the word "to bear" in John 15:2 could be translated "to carry fruit from one location to another ." In other words, God wants us to be an open channel, carrying His Love on to others.
He also suggests that the phrase "abide in Me" or "remain in Me" could also be translated "rest in My Love ." If this is true, then God's promise in verse 7 makes much more sense. If we continue to "rest in His Love" (i.e., continue to be an open channel), then we can ask whatever we will and He will do it.
As we said before, the proof that we are Christians does not come through our knowledge of Scripture, from our spiritual gifts or even our church attendance, but only by how much of God's Love we are sharing.
John 15:14 says that if we are obedient and do what God commands (remain in His Love and carry fruit) then we will be His "friends." Abraham is a good example of someone who rested in and remained in God's Love. Thus, Abraham is remembered in Scripture as a "friend of God" and one who "walked with God." Abraham had that intimate relationship with God that we all desire. Staying in, remaining in, and resting in God's Love is the only way to achieve that union.
Filled With the "Fulness of God"
4) Loving with God's Love is important because it shows that we are filled with the "fulness of God." The fulness of God is experiencing His Life-His supernatural Love, Wisdom and Power-though us, in place of our own. It is God's Character, His Image and His Fulness that we are passing on, not our own.
Ephesians 3:19 says we are "to know the Love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Stephen, in Acts 6-7, is a wonderful example of being filled with the "fulness of God." Even when the elders and the high priests persecuted him and charged him falsely before the Sanhedrin, he was still visibly "full of faith and power." (6:8) Thus, the people who saw him, "were not able to resist the wisdom by which he spoke." They "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts 6:10,15) Then in Acts 7:60, as they were stoning him, Stephen said, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Steven, at the moment they were stoning him to death, was still so "full of the Holy Spirit" (verse 55), that he could unconditionally forgive and love them.
2 Corinthians 4:7,10-12 says, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us... Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, [so] that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you ."
What Unites Us?
5) God's Love is important because it's the perfect "bond of union," not only between God and me, but also between others and myself. (Colossians 3:14)
God's Love not only initiates a relationship and maintains that relationship, it also continually reconciles that relationship. God's Love is the only power that enables us to unconditionally forgive and forget what others have done to us. When God cleanses and heals us by His Love, our wounds are not just buried and pushed down-continuing to unconsciously motivate our actions-they are literally removed from us.
As God says in Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, So far hath He removed our transgressions [our sins] from us."
I heard a Christian radio psychologist once say to a man whose wife had just left him, "You just forgive and forget what others have done to you and go on as if nothing ever happened." Have you ever tried to do that in your own power? It's a total impossibility!
On our own, how can we rid ourselves of all the hurts and wounds we have unjustly sustained by others? There's no way we can! There is no way we can naturally forgive another person, and go on in that relationship "as if nothing had ever happened," unless of course, we bury our real feelings, build walls and become totally desensitized.
Many people live this way because they don't realize they have another option. They don't realize that by having Jesus in their hearts, He not only will heal and remove their wounds and hurts, but also He will give them the Love they need to genuinely go on as if nothing has ever happened.
Only God's Love can do this for us. Only God's Love can cleanse us, heal us, and enable us to forgive others. Only His Love can reconcile us. Only His Love will wipe away our divisions and our discords. And only His Love will unite us as one!
John 17:22-23a tells us, "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect [complete] in one."