Love. Just say this word out loud and then sit in the emotions you feel for a moment. In a perfect world, the word would conjure up feelings of warmth, joy, security and acceptance. We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world so for some, this word brings about pain, fear, insecurity and anger. In order to live like Christ, we need to love like Christ and that can make many people feel uncomfortable.
In this passage, Colossians 3:14, Paul is directing us to live in love at all times because love creates unity. The question we have to ask now is, “what kind of love?” In this verse, and SO many verses in the New Testament, writers are referring to agape love. This type of love is unconditional in all circumstances. Agape love is more action than feeling because it shows the receiver that no matter what they do, say or believe, the giver loves them and is going to do their best to support them. Agape love doesn’t care if you agree or disagree, it stays to help and support. Agape love has no measure of deserving because all are equal and fully cared about regardless of any extenuating circumstances. In agape love, there are no extenuating circumstances; all are loved.
Now, here’s where human nature starts to get in the way. How can I love someone I don’t agree with? Agape love is unconditional and therefore, is not built on what you do or do not believe as far as a faith system or lifestyle. Agape love says that because you exist, I love you. Agape love is perfect love, it’s God’s love. Agape love is a choice you make every moment of the day. It’s a choice to put another person above yourself in order to bring about community, even when you don’t like or agree with everything that person is doing or saying. Agape love has as its final desire unity and unity leads to community. You can easily be in community and not believe the same if you will decide that connection is the most important outcome.
Here’s what agape love is not: a license for abuse. In all of our interactions, there should be healthy boundaries and that same principal applies to agape love. At not point does God expect us to live in an abusive relationship under the guise of “love” because honestly, allowing someone to abuse you is not showing them love. It is possible to make the choice to love someone, hope and pray for their very best in life, and not be part of their every day life. In agape love, you are able to say, “I love you. I truly want the best for you and I can’t provide support when you are hurting me.” You aren’t taking away the desire for connection, you are setting up a list of expectations that must be met in order to love the person, you are simply providing a safe boundary where love can actually grow and flourish. God shows us this throughout the Bible and all of life. He is always present, always loving but, He is not always condoning our actions. If God IS love, agape love, then boudaries are part of love.
it’s time for us to redefine love. God is not asking us to like everyone, He is asking us to love everyone. My loving you doesn’t imply that I agree with you in every aspect, it simply means that I’m willing to hope for your best, support you as I am able, and desire unity with you. My actions will always be drive by my desire to create unity through love. If we could live out this mandate, love like Christ loved, no one would ever associate anything negative with love again. May we love like this all of our days.