agape love: a gap, eh?

agapē [greek]: unconditional love

agapē love is defined as a love that is:

♥ born out of pure, willful, sacrificial love;
♥ not born out of attraction, emotion, or comfort.
♥ a choice, a commitment;
♥ not conditional, but intentional.
♥ not concerned with self, but desires the good of another;
“the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God”.

i don’t really know much about love
let alone unconditional love
but i’m learning how to reframe
the worldly labels
we assign to love
and starting to recognise
where i have allowed
“worldly love”
to jade my perception
of ALL love
i n c l u d i n g
this fatherly, agapē love

as 1 John 4:8 states:
“God is love [agapos]”
i’ve always accepted this
but never analysed this
i want to understand love
i want to know more
about this agapē love

i don’t know about you
but rather than looking
at this agapē love in God
i often find myself looking
at the worldly kind of love
a non-Greco-Christian love
that is conditional, temporal

we can distinguish this form of love
by how it makes us think, feel and act

rather than resting in the agapē love of a Father
we are restless, responding to love as “a gap, e(h)”?

we mishear our desires
as thought they tell us of
the dominance of absence
not presence in our lives

we are sold a lie that we are without
that we need more and need to be more
to feel that fullness and presence of love
but this worldly love only widens the gap

when we focus on the gap, the lack, the empty
the ache, the unfulfilled dream, the fear, the hope:
we live from “a gap eh?” absence not agapē presence

if you’ve been on my blogging journey
for a little while now you’ll know
that i’ve opened up about this gap:
the ache of being an only one
the ache of being an an option, not an only one
in relation to romantic relationships
and singleness and contentment and purity
(all the triggering words post valentines day)

the reason i started to share more
was because i realised i was not alone
in the need to reframe temporal to eternal
and preaching truth to the deceived heart

maybe you’ve noticed this gap in yourself
this emptiness, this longing for meaning, for love

to understand “a gap eh?” absence and agapē presence
the only place we can look is to God
the source of unconditional love

His love is not earned, but learned
His love is an undeserved, gracious gift

God knew we would have these holes
these aches, these gaps in our lives
that we would look to fill
in our pursuit of passion and purpose
our search for meaning
our longings for love

God knew we would have these
because he created these
the God-shaped hole that we
s h a t t e r
into a million different holes
when we seek to fill the hole
with an abundance of worldly
[ external things ]
instead of looking
to the abundance of heavenly
[ eternal, internal things ]

God knew, because he created
this space for a purpose
not a space between us
a bridge, a divide
we create that bridge, that divide
we perceive that space to be distance
when it was a space destined for a deeper desire

God knew this space had to be deliberately
uncontainable, unimaginable, unfulfillable
with anything we could comprehend
because if it were
if these holes, aches, gaps in our lives
were things we could contain, imagine and fill
we wouldn’t need him

we wouldn’t need him
to be whole, complete, satisfied
we would be our own god
we would assume our needs
instead of finding ourselves
on our knees
face to face with humility and grace
as we surrender our ideas of what we need
to the one who knows us intimately

God didn’t cheapen the price of love
with a crimson rose or chocolate love heart
He chose to pay the price of love
with His Son’s crimson blood
He chose to give a love offering

that would forever defeat our fear (sin and death)
He walked out of an empty grave
to come closer to our empty lives

replacing our empty with intimacy
and filling us with Him very self
his Spirit of love, power and a sound mind

[ 2 Timothly 1:7 ]

“God is love [agapos]”

when we dwell upon this truth
we must not let our definition of love
shape our definition of god
or rather, let our idea of god
be influenced by our ideas of love
we must allow god
to define and direct our vision of love
we must look to god, not to love
for our understanding of love

it’s not easy to grasp this invisible reality
so we readily turn to our visible reality
and form a broken understanding of love
which can affect our understanding of God

God is not broken
in order for him to give away
this source of love [apagos]
we do not receive a piece of him

no, his love is a perfect love
he offers his whole self to us

but so often
we only want pieces of him
pieces of him in our lives
pieces of him in our day
pieces of him in our brokenness
pieces of him in our success

we pray for his provision and protection
but do we pray for his presence?

our understanding of God and love
can easily become about
WHAT he can do for us
instead of WHO HE IS

if we only look to him
for inputs and outputs
we can lose sight of the
substance and presence

there is an abundance of
life and love to be found
in A B I D I N G
in R E S T I N G
in T R U S T I N G

sometimes we don’t even look to God
b e c a u s e
we get stuck looking at ourselves
or looking for and towards others

when i reflect on when i have allowed “worldly love”
to scream over the whisper of agapē love in my life
i realise that those are seasons
when i have silenced my heart
and instead of allowing agapē presence
to speak into those empty places in me
i have allowed the “a gap eh?” absence
to create an echo chamber of insecurity

b u t

God’s love is perfect love

a n d

perfect love
is not a love
we seek security from
as if it is our own search

for attention
that affords us affection


perfect love seeks us out
and secures us in himself

this is not a love
that requires us
to do…but…to be

it is a love that invites us
into an eternal romance
of identity
and intimacy
in the beauty of the trinity

this is not a romance of temporality
with pleasures and desires that fade

no, perfect love invites us
to delight in a deeper desire

that which is steadfast, satisfying and secure

that is, agapē love

if you find yourself in a season
where you have silenced your heart
then this is a season when you need
to ask the WHY of your heart

let’s consider this question
via metaphoric reflection:

if life was a roundabout
and morality
was as simple as a left or right turn
a first exit of second exit scenario
then we could argue
that it is our motivation
towards a certain destination
that drives us and thus leads us
to turn the steering wheel
in certain directions
so if we consider our motivations
to be drivers of morality
we need to ask questions of our hearts
to determine the destination
that we have in mind
that might be dictating
our direction and motivation

we can so easily assume ourselves
to be heading in one direction
but after a few roundabouts in life
we can very easily end up
a few turns too many
in the wrong direction
and suddenly
when we look
at the driving forces in our lives
we can’t begin to connect the dots
between our desires and our actions
our reality and our dreams
we can no longer associate
what we are doing with a direction
we no longer know
where we are going

we have lost sight of our destination
there is no google maps to re-route
the only option is to turn
r e p e n t a n c e
and this is not a one-time thing
there are many roundabouts
we may have turned the wrong way
many confrontations we need to make
with our own motivations and morals
r e p e n t a n c e
is not an un-doing, but a re-routing

it is not a step backwards
in order to return to a certain past state
r e p e n t a n c e
is a part of the journey forwards
it is present and future state oriented
it enables us to refocus on our destination

as followers of the Way
our destination is not a place but a person
we are called to follow Jesus
but we find it difficult to do this
especially in our day and age

our conception of followers
are tangible, visible subscribers
who like, engage and consume
what we create, project and share
this isn’t how following Jesus looks
the tangibles, the visibles are not
marks of “success” and “fame”
rather, it is almost the opposite

Jesus doesn’t invite us
to like and subscribe to him
for his own metrics of success
he invites us to follow him
as he looks to:
a greater prize, a greater inheritance, a greater vision
of what it means to have:
a purpose (kingdom-builder), a place (kingdom of god), a status
(daughter and son of the king, child of the living god, heir of eternal life)

Jesus is not collecting for himself
an audience of bystanders
he is calling us home
to our Father’s house

we are called to be children of light [ 1 Thes. 5:5, Eph. 5:8 ]
in the darkness of the age (darkness of our hearts, our love)

we are also called to do his Father’s work on this earth
that all might be brought into this love story, this family

in his narrative of redemption for all humanity
we are invited to be partakers in this intimacy

this bridging of the divide between heaven and earth
for as Jesus bridges this divide, making a way for us
he invites us to follow him in this Way
in bridging these spiritual divides in our lives
in gathering around our brothers and sisters
in loving on the lost and lovely and unloved
that they may encounter perfect, agapē love

this is what valentines day reminds me of
it reminds me of the grand scale pursuit
God is making after every human heart

a few years ago
my theme for the year was
“journeying deeper into the Father’s heart”
at the start of this year
i was reflecting on this notion of my journey
i was wondering how i had seen
such departure from depth
in my relationship with my heavenly Father
and such disconnect from seeing His heart for me
i was disheartened

so i asked the question of my heart
and there, the Spirit revealed to me
that there was a need for reframing
in my understanding of God’s heart
and in turn, how i saw my own heart:

i am wanting more of Your heart
when You want more of my heart

let me write that again for all of us:

we want more of Him, more of His heart
when He wants more of ours, more of us
all of the “us” that we withhold from him
and give to other things in our love feasts

*note: this is biblical language for idolatry*

to conclude;
our love for god cannot be
jaded by, influenced by, or defined by
our experience of love in this world
god’s love is not an experience
it does not have a start and a finish
god’s love is an eternal expression
of his serenading salvation song

here is a valentine vow;
“you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind
this is the great and first commandment

and a second is like it: you shall
love your neighbor as yourself”

[ Matt. 22: 37-38]

as followers of the Way,
let’s walk in the Way
of the one we follow:
in L O V E

Read 1 John for a love letter of truth and light to your soul. To whet your appetite:

What is perfect, fear-casting love?

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

How is God’s love perfected in us?

“But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4-5)

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

How do we live in light of perfect love?

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away, along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17)

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21)

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:16-18)

One thought on “agape love: a gap, eh?

  1. Jess,
    I continually find myself lost for words.
    Your depth of understanding, breadth of emotion, heart, self-awareness, and insight into the human condition is beyond remarkable.
    I’m not sure I have a word to describe it.
    Don’t ever stop.

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