After my previous blog post, I felt it was necessary that I explain, in further detail, exactly what I mean by an ethic of love, particularly, an ethic of agape love. So here goes!
The Definition for this is “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.” (as given by Google’s definition engine). In other words, our ethics is the principles and motivations that govern and help us decide the actions that we should take. Someone who has an ethic of earning money will gear all of their decision making around what will be most profitable to them. Someone who has an ethic of retributive justice will gear all of their decisions around getting back at people who have wronged them. Someone who has an ethic of social justice will gear all of their decisions around making sure oppressed people have freedom and equality with everyone else.
In addition, Agape is the greek word most commonly translated as “unconditional love”. This is the love that is not motivated by wrong or right. This is that love that has no bounds. This is the love the precedes absolutely everything. Agape love is the love discussed in I Corinthians 13, where Paul writes an eloquent and beautiful poem on the virtues that agape love has. It holds no records of wrongs, it is not proud, it does not boast, it seeks justice and rejoices when justice wins out, it is not envious or prideful, it hopes and endures through all things, and most of all, agape never fails. (This is not every single virtue of agape love in I Corinthians 13, but you get the point.) This is the love a mother and father have for their unborn child. This is the inherent love that people have born within them for their passions and talents. This is the love that keeps on beckoning; that no matter the circumstance, we cannot help but love whatever or whoever it is deeply. It is the love that does not keep borders and walls in mind, but rather looks at the inherent beauty of all things. It is the love for people within and outside of our “group” whatever that might be. It is the love that Jesus showed time and time again, even upon the cross where He met death.
So, to talk about an Ethic of Agape means that Agape love is what motivates us and drives us. It seeps into all of our decision making, from where we work, to who we spend time with, to what groceries we buy. Agape love is meant to seep deep into the bones of every single human being, and I would argue that it is inherently born into every single being on earth. However, because of the structural evil that runs rampant through the cosmos, we have false teachings that tell us these borders between us and them are needed. We have a rhetoric that tells us people who can’t find jobs and are bumming off the welfare system are just lazy. We have a system that created a temple tax in the 1st century that prevented people from entering the temple and restoring their relationship with God if they did not have enough money. Agape love breaks down these boundaries and false teachings, and instead builds a rhetoric of hope in and love of all things. It sees the divine image in all things. It sees the beauty in all things. It jumps willingly into the sacred flow of the triune God which gives selfless and humble love that never stops flowing.
So when I talk about the need to serve others humbly, I’m referring to the ethic of agape. When I talk about the need to meet with people where they are at and understand people who are different than us, I am referring to a rhetoric of unconditional love. When I talk about the need for unification and prophetic wisdom, I am talking about our inherent agape love that has been put aside for structural evil teachings of the need for boundaries and “us vs. Them” mentality. This is why an ethic of agape is so crucial. It is the ethic that Jesus was the exemplar of. It is the ethic that He has called us into as disciples. It is the first action that springs forth from a relationship of discipleship with Christ. This is what I am referring to when I talk about an Ethic of Love.
I hope that this was helpful for you in your own spiritual journey (whatever denomination or religion you practice) Love is what ties us all together. If you want to learn more about this stuff, check out people like John Phillip Newel, Rob Bell, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, and so many others who are championing the movement of moving from hate to love and true spirituality.
Much grace and even more peace be with you all!
This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or any groups mentioned here