Love in the Christian community is often referred to as agape. Merriam Webster defines agape as wide open. Most Christians would further define agape as a “love feast.” The Scripture talks about a banquet thrown by a wealthy person in which the wealthy person sends his servants into the streets to gather the outcast, the disabled, and the poor to come to the table and enjoy the meal. As with all the persons gathered around that table Christian love is without pre-conditions and without reservations.
There is a scriptural passage in Matthew that explains unconditional love. “Lord, when did we see you hungry, naked, sick or in prison.” Jesus responded with, “if you do this to the least of these you have done it to me.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love is the heart of the Christian community.
Christ re-energized the Old and New Testament by restating the commandments:
One, Love God, with all your heart, mind, body and soul, and; two, Love your neighbor as yourself.
So what does this all mean? It means there is but one God and that we worship God with all our heart, mind, body and soul. And, you know the driver that just cut you off or the person that jumped in front of you in line. Yep, that is your neighbor. Yes, we do need to forgive that person and love that person. The person begging on the street is also our neighbor. The people that do not look like us, don’t act like us, don’t think like us, what are they? They are also our neighbors. Patience, kindness, and tolerance are all acts of Christian love.
My aunt and my uncle had their daughter killed in a “snuff” film by some very, very sick man. The second greatest act of Christian love I ever saw was when my aunt and my uncle forgave the man that killed their daughter. Was it difficult? I think so, since their marriage and family life after that was changed forever. My uncle retired and they left their home of 50 years, moved 3,000 miles. I could hear something different in their voice and read something different in their writing. Nonetheless it was an incredible act of Christian love.
Giving a blanket to someone who needs warmth, food to someone who is hungry, clothing to those that are naked, and forgiving our debtors are just some of the hallmarks of Christian love.
There is a song that goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Truer words have never been written.
Francis (Frank) Remkiewicz is an area resident and contributes a monthly column focused primarily on faith and religion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.