Pastor's Monthly Pen
I am so grateful for the sacrificial love you showed Lucero and me with your very generous Christmas gifts to us. I am pleased that you are grateful to God with our presence here with you, and I rejoice that He has brought us here to minister with you.
This sacrificial love is what we are commanded by Christ to show one another in John 15:12 – 12
"This is my commandment, that you love (Agape) one another as I have loved (Agape) you.”
This sacrificial love (Agape) is not a feeling or emotion – such as the love between two young people experiencing Eros or romantic love; Agape is not a love which is dependent on the other – such as the love between friends experiencing Philia or brotherly love; Agape is a selfless love – dependent on nothing but the giver.
This is a love that you extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word “charity.”
C.S. Lewis referred to it as “gift love,” the highest form of Christian love. But it also appears in other religious traditions, such as the idea of mettā or “universal loving kindness” in Theravāda Buddhism.
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" From Elaine – age 5 “Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.” From Chrissy – age 6: “Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french-fries without making them give you any of theirs.” From Rebecca – age 8: "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. We urgently need to revive our capacity to care about others regardless of whether they care about us.
This type of love is the word which is used every time scriptures talk about the love of God or Christ toward us. One of the greatest illustrations of this love came when God told the prophet Hosea to marry an unfaithful prostitute so the people could see how He was with the people of Israel who were constantly unfaithful to Him. Yet He continues to love them – to love us. Let us love each other in the same manner.
A thank you note from Lucero: my husband and I are very grateful and honored to be a part of FCC Pensacola; we are glad & happy that God brought us here. We want to thank everyone for the wonderful Christmas cards and presents. We never expected to receive anything and we were overjoyed to know that we are loved and welcomed here.