I don’t know what a post-COVID-19 world will look like. I hope we won’t return to the pre-pandemic status quo. The pre-pandemic status quo was not perfect. There was still war, poverty, hatred, division, corruption, and so on. The kingdom of heaven has not yet come in full.
However, pandemic or no pandemic, the Church is still called to love. Love is why we were made. The love of God is what will save us. Ponder the following scripture from 1 John 4:7-12. This comes from one of my favorite chapters in the Bible:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
The love spoken about in the passage above is the Greek word “agape,” which is unconditional and the strongest form of love. It is the love of God in sending Jesus so that we might live through him. It is the love of Jesus as he died for us on the cross. It is the love of the Holy Spirit that continues to mold us into the likeness of Christ. It is a love that stands up for the poor. It is a love that lays down one’s life for others. It is a love that is powerful enough to transform us and transform others.
Let’s put some flesh into this idea of “agape.”
Love is sacrificial: Be sacrificial of your time to serve those in need in our community. For example, I know of someone who knits scarves for those in need in our community. I know of another who spends several days a week collecting food from local stores for food ministries. I know of others who have helped people in need make sure they are able to put food on their tables or handle their bills. Love is tearing down walls and building bridges: Don’t hate your neighbor or the political “other.” Show kindness to all. Pray for your enemies. If possible and safe, get to know your enemy. You may be surprised that they are human just like you.
Can you cook a meal for them? Invite them over for dinner? Snowblow their driveway? Can you seek common ground? Can you find ways to do ministry with one another?
Love is turning over tables: Love doesn’t stand idly by in the face of injustice. Love recognizes injustice, even when we find ourselves perpetuating it or benefitting from it. Love is standing up to racism and working to root out racism in your own life (even if you think you’re color blind).
Love is standing up for the poor and against systems that oppress them. Love is standing up against religious descrimination of people who believe differently than you.
Love is caring for the earth, not only for ourselves but for our neighbors and future generations. Love is contacting your elected representatives to advocate for policies that will benefit those in need.
Agape love is a verb. It involves doing. It involves a way of life. It involves following Jesus. It involves letting the love of God so infuse us that we can’t help but give it away to others. Friends, may we be so transformed by the love of God so that we can live a life of love.