The power of agape love
Do you ever find love confusing? I know I do. Perhaps it’s because there are so many different types of love. “Agape” is one of several Greek words for love and refers specifically to divine pure love; the love that desires another’s highest and best good. Often, though, when we humans think of love, we think of romantic love and the roller coaster of emotions that it can evoke: ecstasy, jealousy, joy and sorrow.
Charles Fillmore (co-founder of Unity Church with his wife, Myrtle) wrote about 12 powers that each of us has as part of our spiritual DNA. Fillmore used the disciples of Jesus as models of these 12 powers. The powers are hard-wired within us, but only active to the extent that we allow them to be awakened and developed. Agape love, represented by the disciple John, is one of these 12 powers. It is considered the ideal love, for it removes all obstacles that cause separation between God, ourselves and others. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16) At our core, we all are love. Yet at times, it’s easy to forget that truth. We’re a bit like computers with tons of programs running and heaps of browser tabs open. We reach a point where our system overloads and crashes. Amid a barrage of negative news and a yearlong pandemic, it’s easy to forget that we are love at our core. While we may want to share agape love, we may find ourselves caught up in overwhelming confusion and conflicting emotions.
How can we tell if the love we are expressing to others is the agape form? Must others behave or believe a certain way to be worthy of our love? Must they love us in return to receive our love? If the answer is yes, our love is conditional and not agape. It’s important not to shame ourselves though, for as humans, we mostly love conditionally.
One of the reasons we hinder agape love is because we think it means we must always be in agreement with others. But that isn’t true. Jesus called us to love one another. He also taught us to be forgiving. We can love people even though they are behaving in ways we don’t like, but that doesn’t mean that we should condone heinous acts. The law of cause and effect will eventually be realized for all of us.
James Dillett Freeman, Unity minister, said, “Love is a change that takes place in our own heart. Sometimes it may change others, but always it changes us.”
Yes, love always changes us. Agape love turns on the light and sees beyond exteriors. It sees the true essence within us – even when you or I forget to activate our own power of love.
A key to revealing more agape love is to become more loving, by growing in the awareness that we are all connected. Every person, every animal comes from God and is part of the intricate web of life. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 3:12) In Unity, we love to use affirmations, so I leave you with one: I allow the power of God’s love to flow through me so that my thoughts, words and deeds may be a reflection of that divine love.
The Rev. Dr. Mitzi Lynton is the lead pastor of Unity of Tempe. Sunday messages are currently online due to COVID- 19 and can be found at Unityoftempe.org