Do you remember the cartoon “Love is………..” by cartoonist Kim Casali from New Zealand. These little cartoons would usually show two people and a caption that showed us how love was defined by the cartoonist. They would say such things as “Love is………………….camping out under the stars together.” or “Love is…………………a feeling to treasure.” These cartoons brought smiles to millions of people over the years and helped us all define what romantic love should be like in our lives.
There are other types of love besides romantic love. Another type of love is seen in the Greek word “Agape” which means brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God. The bible has over 700 verses that talk about love. My favorite bible verses on love are:
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Matthew 22:39 “And the second is like it:’Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Romans 13:10 “Loves does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Our mission trips have provided us with many opportunities to learn about agape love and to see it in action. Drilling a well in rural Kenya so the village can have clean water shows agape love to the village. Feeding the hungry at a homeless shelter in a city center shows agape love to the homeless. Building homes for orphans so they no longer live on the streets shows agape love to the orphans.
We also have seen how love can do unintentional harm if we do not follow Christ’s example when we move as the hands and feet of Christ to the world. The world watches us as we step out in faith. They watch to see if are actions are authentic in our walk with Christ. As short term missionary, we show Christ’s love to those we go to serve. But then do we fight and argue among the team members as we try to finish the project together? We go on missions to show Christ’s love by spending time developing friendships with the local people. But then do we refuse to eat with those same locals because we do not know where or how their food has been cooked? We go to foreign lands to wash the feet of the poor as Christ did with His disciples. But then do we complain about the poor conditions of the hotel and that it is not up to our standards? When people witness these types of behaviors by missionaries, it does unintentional harm to the work of Christ in that area.
These commandments of “Love does no harm” and “Love thy Neighbor” are also difficult to live out in our regular day to day lives. There are no asterisks after these commandments that grants us an exception to them. It does not say only love those that look like you, or act like you, or have the same beliefs as you. Love, that is all there is to it. Love has no judgement or no criticism. We are just commanded to love. 1 John 4:20 says
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
“God is Love” and we are commanded to be Christ to the world so we must reflect that love to EVERYONE.