Can you feel the Agape?
No I don’t mean can you feel the breeze whistling past your tonsils as you stand with your mouth wide open. Agape, (pronounced Ah-gah-pay) is a word I have only just discovered. Now I have read a little about it and I have also heard a rather lovely song about it (Agape, by Bears Den). It seems appropriate to consider the concept of Agape at this reflective time of year.
Stop rushing around, put down that tinsel and wrapping paper, and consider whether you can walk with the concept of Agape, or not.
One definition of Agape, which comes from Greek, is unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take. It devotes total commitment to seeking your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned, or not.
That is a tall order for mere humans! – we naturally tend to measure our giving and receiving love, and ego may tell us that we are the best judges as whether we should give our love or not. But a key principle of Agape love is that is not about mutual point scoring, it is freely given without anticipation of return. Agape can be viewed as the highest form of love, and it encompasses the best of brotherly love and charity. It is further described as the love of God for man and of man for God, to illustrate something of its selfless and giving nature.
In his book Resilient, Sheridan Voysey sums up his view of Agape when he writes: Good relationships are intrinsically mutual, and business should be fair—reciprocity has its place. But in my darkest, weakest, most fruitless moments I need Agape. And with God’s strength, I want to give it. Beyond business deals and mutual friendship, I want to give without requiring anything in return.
Dogs are a good example of Agape love. Whether they are ignored or pampered, they wag their tails and greet us with affection. The beginning of each day is an especially happy time for dogs, they bring no baggage with them from the day before and this is an example that we would do well to follow. They give unconditionally, and do not differentiate between getting a scolding or a stroke in return. They are entirely unaffected by our response to their Agape; they just keep on giving regardless.
We feel Agape love for our children from the moment they are born and as a mother who has lost her son I still feel Agape love for James; that will remain unchanged and undiminished for the rest of my life.
And maybe it is that Agape love that keeps his memories so strong in my heart; he is with me for every beat.
I like too the saying, Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, for we have no idea what each day will bring. That seems to me to sit well with the principles of Agape love that has a purity of spirit about it which neither carries nor demands, it just is.
It is Agape love that draws us to acts of charity and in particular at this time of year we are more sensitive to the needs of others and may be practising a degree of Agape without even realising it.
Here are some definitions of Agape – I am sure you can find more?
Agape love is strong, powerful and forgiving.
Agape is the love that is shared in robust relationships that have gone past the heady days of trying to impress.
Agape loves in such a way that it makes us feel cherished and beautiful.
Agape is based upon giving through sharing and understanding that when you share, you are not losing anything, but you are gaining.
Agape love transcends the concept of needing to be forgiven
To even scratch at the surface of the concept of Agape love I begin to see that it is necessary to set aside the rules that we accept as the norm in our philosophical loving relationships: by this I mean that we generally measure love in give and take terms. Thus we limit ourselves in our capacity for Agape love as these terms do not apply in a love which is both sharing and unconditional.
It should be easy to define something that is totally without demands or requirements, but it is not!
Theologian William Barclay, noted: Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live
So there we have it. Agape is a highly selfless form of love, it is a principle, it is an overwhelming, elusive something that we should aspire to if we can grasp its concepts. Perhaps this is something to grapple with as we approach the festivities.
Give yourself some thinking time and open your heart to feel the Agape!