Saturday, April 15, 2017

Christian Love is Agape Love

The Greatest Commandment - Back porch Musings of Prattzilla

Let me just start by saying I know next to nothing about Greek and I do not pretend to have any actual unique take on any Biblical concept nor do I have specific scripture backing up my many claims.  I simply want to have a post over recent world events during Christ's resurrection celebration.  I also want to make the caveat that I have no particular person in mind when I write this with the exception of Christians in general.  I also want you to know that this piece is particularly brutal to the "traditional" "Sean Hannity" Christian.  If that isn't something you are interested in, I encourage you to not read this piece.  

This past week, our pastor Blake Jennings at Grace Bible Church Southwood in College Station, Texas discussed the so-called "Greatest Commandment." I fully enjoyed this discussion as Blake gave me something new to consider on this traditional text.  I posted all of the important information for you to consider at the bottom of this blog and a reminder of what the Greatest Commandment passage is all about.  

I have always taken this Commandment from our Messiah as a pretty normal response to the Pharisees, but it was so much more than that.  Jesus used Agape love in this.  That's serious folks.  

Basically, Christ is pointing out that it's actually impossible to complete the Greatest Commandment. We've failed, and we will always fail.  Thankfully we have the Gospel, but that's not what I want to talk about here.  I have something more that has pulled at my heart over the past few years, months and days when it comes to this Greatest Commandment.  

The poor - Somewhere along the line, Christians all became Conservative Capitalists.  Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a Conservative Capitalist too, but the Blood of Christ compels me to consider things outside of this world.  I've posted this before, but I encourage everyone to have a listen to this Phil Vischer podcast and consider the key points Skye Jethani brings to light.  Discussing the poor, Skye's daily devotional is now free.  He cancelled my credit card paying for the service as he did everyone.  

The sermon on the mount was devastating for the Pharisees who placed an extreme emphasis on the law.  It's so very clear that the Lord commands us to take care of the poor, but it seems over and over again that the Church relies on the things of this world (Capitalism) to help the needy.  Perhaps Capitalism will help the most, but as a historian I can't imagine Christians not supporting the New Deal or the Great Society when the intent was targeted at helping the poor.  I understand that in many ways these programs failed miserably, but we as Christians have taken an intellectual approach to the poor and politics as opposed to a love approach to politics.  Again, we have been commanded Agape in this sense. Yes...I'm saying that being a "Bleeding Heart" really might be what Christ commands. Why are we so fast to hold onto our money when we have been shown that we will give our money to whatever we love the most which is inevitably ourselves.  I'm worried that I have done too little for the poor in the eyes of God.  (of course I's impossible without the Blood of Christ)  The Greatest Commandment - Agape

Immigrants - What would Jesus do about so called "illegal immigration?"  Welcome them.  All of them.  All authority is put in place by God without a doubt and law is put in place for us to follow, but just as we sin constantly we often break the law constantly.  Often times purposely.  Speeding, perfectly paying taxes, always following environmental concerns.....I think I've made my point.  We choose which laws to follow and yet when it comes to bringing in more people to the United States in which we can be witnesses, we are adamant that the law be followed to the letter.  I say we have no business interfering with law enforcement, but we should welcome all immigrants whether legal or non-legal into our churches and rejoice when they arrive safely.  

For that matter, I'm confused why American Christians don't fight for immigration reform.  It's become increasingly difficult to come to the United States legally.  It matters zero what immigration policies are of other countries.  Zero.  We live in the most Christian friendly environment in the World.  Why would we limit any access to this path to the Cross?  Historically speaking, how many current American citizens came to this great country under repressive immigration policies?  Unless you are Chinese or Eastern European, I would bet the answer is zero.  Most people became citizens by getting off of the boat and giving your name as an immigrant to the United States and that...led America to become great.  Great.  The United States became great due to its limited government in regard to immigration.  I believe it's our duty as Christians to constantly push for immigration reform to make it easier to come legally and safely.  The Greatest Commandment - Agape (I plan on writing another blog post on needed immigration reform and how to properly go about it)  

Refugees - As a good Conservative, this one is easy.  We should in no way bring in refugees, but also as a good Conservative we should in no way bomb other countries unless they attack us.  Where exactly in the Constitution does it allow us to bomb Syria?  If you believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, there is no legal recourse to even being involved in Southwest Asia.  9-11?  They were all from Saudi Arabia.  Unless we are bombing Saudi Arabia, I have no idea what on Earth we are doing there.........

I am a good Conservative, BUT I am a follower of Christ first.  I believe the Bible has called us to specifically care for and protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Consider this photo….

This photo changed my life.  I cannot help but to tear up when I see it.  It is a picture of a Syrian Refugee father with his children. That father loves his children dearly, and yet Americans fight to turn away.  Christ would embrace this man and his children.  They have nothing and we have so much.  If we were so worried about children being killed by chemical weapons, why were we not willing to simply have them here in the first place via a very liberal refugee policy?  Christ is the only one who can give this man and his children rest, but Americans have every ability to take in every single refugee.  Wait, they were rumored to be extremist Muslims.  Guess what?  The Greatest Commandment - Agape.

Ban on Majority Muslim Countries - Let me get this straight.  We are to bring the word of God to the corners of the Earth, but we balk at those people coming to us so that we can share the Gospel in our back yard.  We cannot go to these places to share the Gospel, but they are willing to come to us.  Again.  The Greatest Commandment - Agape.  

Donald Trump - I believe in Character, Morality, Kindness, Peacemaking, and Righteousness. Which of these does this man possess or attempt to possess?  How exactly does this person fit into the Sermon on the Mount?  We were right to reject the presidency of Bill Clinton due to his moral corruption, but what has happened to that conviction we had against Clinton when it comes to Trump?  I'm worried it was just politics as usual.  I'm worried that Christians are just like everyone else.  Politics as usual.  Greatest Commandment - Agape.

We have been called to be fundamentally different than the world.  We have been called to bring the love of Christ to the best of our abilities.  We have been called to be dumbfounding to the world due to our love.  We have been called to sacrifice in the name of Christ.  I have had discussions with Christian students in the high school in which I teach, and their faith is challenged mostly by Christians acting as they are acting now.  Love isn't what dominates their thought process; rather, a list of things outside of what we should care about as Christians:  money, safety, politics.  On this Resurrection Sunday, I hope we as a Christian Nation can be great again by being the Light on the Hill that we were founded on.  

The Greatest Commandment

34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. 35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love theLord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Here is the Greek for your enjoyment with the highlighted word Agape -
34 Οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ἐφίμωσεν τοὺς Σαδδουκαίους συνήχθησαν ἐπὶ τὸαὐτό, 35 καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν [νομικὸς] πειράζων αὐτόν· 36 διδάσκαλε, ποίαἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ; 37 ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐν ὅλῃ |τῇ| καρδίᾳ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου· 38 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ μεγάληκαὶ πρώτη ἐντολή. 39 δευτέρα |δὲ| ὁμοία αὐτῇ· ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.40 ἐν ταύταις ταῖς δυσὶν ἐντολαῖς ὅλος ὁ νόμος κρέμαται καὶ οἱ προφῆται.
Wiki Definition of Agape - Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to "love: the highest form of love, charity", and "the love of God for man and of man for God".[1] Not to be confused with philiabrotherly love – agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.