I volunteer weekly at my local pregnancy center. It is one of the greatest joys and privileges I have to be able to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of expecting and new mamas around me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me, “Are you ever surprised by who comes in there? Like, are most of them beautiful girls or do you look at some and think, ‘How do you even have a boyfriend?'”
I was kind of taken aback by the question. She didn’t intend to be mean; she meant it honestly, even if it was thoughtless. I pondered for a minute in confusion before answering.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been surprised by who comes in. Maybe saddened and grieved by their stories but not surprised. When I go there, I have pre-determined to love whoever walks through that door and so every single girl that comes in is beautiful to me before I even know them. I already love them.”
I’ve thought a lot about that conversation since then and I still believe what I said is true. I did a study awhile back in 1, 2, and 3 John and the most valuable thing I got out of it was a definition of agape love:
Agape: an intelligent, purposeful attitude of esteem and devotion, a selfless, purposeful, outgoing attitude that desires to do good to the one loved.
Pretty convicting, huh? Even more so if you look up how many times THAT is the word that is translated to love in our Bibles. Agape love is one that denies myself and seeks the best for another person. It’s not based on emotions but it’s an act of the will, an intentional choice to love someone else sacrificially. Boy, that’s hard!
And yet isn’t that how Christ loves us? He doesn’t love us based on our beauty, our lovableness, good works, or desirableness. We are none of those things. It’s purely a pre-determination to SET his love on us. He CHOOSES to love us. And we are called to do the same, whether we feel like it or not.
What was more convicting for me was that I realized I do this easily at the pregnancy center but I drift off in other areas of my life. Have I made that pre-determination to agape every. single. person. I know? That’s harder and yet that’s what I am commanded to do.
1 John 3:16-18
“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 in truth.”
(Really, you should just read all of 1 John 🙂 )