Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Compared to other Greek words for love (philia, erōs), agapē doesn’t show up much in Classical Greek literature - it is very much a word that becomes prominent in the New Testament. Yet its earlier uses imply a mix of affection, devotion, and action comparable to what we see in Christian texts. In Euripides’ play The Suppliants, for example, a messenger (angelos!) describes how the Athenian king Theseus “tends lovingly” (agapaō, verbal form of agapē) for those who have died in battle (line 764).
It has been a hard year for love of all varieties. Dating in the era of COVID-19 is even more awkward and complicated than before. We are unable to express love for friends and family in the usual ways. Add to that, in this season of isolation, frustration, and strong feelings about what is right, wrong, and essential, it is hard to remember that we love each other at all.
For the Christians addressed in Revelation and us as well, love is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. In Jesus we experience a love that transforms. This love, agape, is more than a feeling of warmth or fondness. It is demonstrated not just through emotion, but in the active care for one another. Care that is demonstrated when we do things like forgo family gatherings to keep those who are vulnerable safe, wear masks because we want to make our community safe for everyone, and speak up for justice so that everyone is able to live and love one another in peace. For Christians, love is expressed through actions. And sure, when we are tired and discouraged it is easy to forget that sort of love. But even when we are unlovable and unloving we remain beloved to God. Consider yourself reminded; you are loved and you are capable of loving others.
Questions For Reflection
How have you practiced love in the past few weeks? When has someone shown love to you?
About the Blog
In this season of plague, flood, fire, hungry cats, and Advent, we invite you to reflect on the words (such clever words!) of the Prophet John in the book of Revelation.
Perhaps you have encountered the #Liturgisaur on Instagram or Facebook. He is a small, green, pants wearing, one armed dinosaur who makes the rounds in Gladwin County and beyond, highlighting the various ministries of Christ the King Lutheran Church.