Love – what does it mean?

I love my wife. I love the KC Chiefs. I love BBQ. I love NASCAR. I love Petra.

Sometimes I wonder if love might be one of the most overused words in the English language?!

This past weekend I had the privilege of being among the first folks to see the initial unveiling of a brand new curriculum from Del Tackett. If you watched “The Truth Project” from Focus on the Family, you might remember Dr. Tackett. This was my second time to see/hear him in person. What a godly, gentle, humble, and challenging man!

I won’t reveal here all that I was exposed to on Saturday, but that time will come soon enough. No, what I want to share this week in my blog is the broadening of my understanding of a word that might must help us as we seek to serve those around us. That word is agape – the Greek word that we usually define as, “unconditional love.”

I do not believe that it was coincidence that on FB yesterday, another friend shared his definition of love. Pastor Cliff defines love as “a demonstrated preference for the well-being of others over and above myself, even at great personal expense, by the help of the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. Tackett defined love as “sacrificial zeal that seeks the true good of another.”

I have been absolutely consumed the last couple of days as I try to deepen my understanding of love (unconditional/agape love). It is so much more than just being willing to forgive…so much more than being patient…so much more than kindness or friendlienss.

Whether we stuck with Cliff’s definition or Del’s, we might have to admit that our understanding of love has been too narrow. Even if we have wrestled with “unconditional’ love before, even if we’ve tried to put some parameters on what it means to love without conditions….

Our understanding of love must change.

Especially if we are going to serve the world as the hands and feet of Jesus! Especially if we are going to try to be the salt of the earth or the light of the world!

From my notes from Saturday’s training/seminar: “You cannot have truth without love and you cannot have love without truth! Our understanding of love must change. True [agape] love is not for wimps. True love is sacrificial. True love comes with consequences.”

Even though I thought I had some handle on what it meant to love without conditions, these two men have ripped the comfort level from my tiny definition and have pushed me to a place where I will have to re-evaluate a great many things that I’ve thought and taught about love.

As I said in the message yesterday, I think that one of the biggest problems in the church is that we’ve become comfortable with being comfortable. Well…

Here’s the warning: Things are about to get uncomfortable.

Here’s the invitation: Let’s relearn what it means to love. Let’s decide that we’ll demonstrate a preference for the well-being of others over and above ourselves and let’s embrace a sacrificial zeal to be the agents of love that God has tasked us to be!

Let’s erase responses like, “I don’t want to do that,” or “that’s not my gift,” or “that isn’t my job,” from our vocabulary and let’s spend the rest of our lives learning what it means to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

What do you say? Are you gonna sit there and be comfortable? Or are you going to learn a little more about what Jesus meant when he said that to follow we’d have to deny ourselves?

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