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Sermon - 3/03/02
Agape Love - John 13:34-35

 Audio Sermon

Agape Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35)

Bill George is a wonderful man, and he has been God’s gift to us for several years.  After an amazing and lengthy time of healing and restoration, the cancer is now back, and it has traveled from his liver to his spine.  His doctor does believe that miracles happen, but recently he told Bill that, “Barring a miracle, you have just a few months to live.”

I mentioned to Bill that real people and situations are often quoted in the studies and sermons of this ministry (Bill is certainly REAL in every way) and asked him this question:  “If you wanted to share something of your life that would live on in this world after the next few months, what would it be?”

His favorite chapter in the whole Bible is 1st Corinthians 13, and I already knew that, but he responded with a different verse:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).  Bill stated that Jesus taught us and gave many parables, but He only issued one command:  We are to “love one another”.

He pointed out that the words for “love” in that verse, are forms of the Greek verb “agape” (ah-gah-pay) which has been taken in Scripture and in the Church as an expression of God’s unconditional love.  W. E. Vine, a great scholar of the New Testament Greek language, said of that word:  “It expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.

In English, we tend to use the word “love” casually, almost flippantly, as we misapply “love” in such ways as, “I love my job” (a rare usage these days) or “I love to watch TV” (all too common).  The Greek word “agape” could never be used in such situations, because it is NOT found in merely caring for something (or someone) because it (or they) makes me feel good – it is based in love for others that is so complete, I would die for them as my Savior has died for me.

If you were Bill George, and had just a few months to live, what would you do with your time?  Let me tell you what Bill is doing:  For one thing, he just completed a three day Walk to Emmaus, in which he was one of the principal speakers.  Bill, of course, helped the rest of us understand more about the agape love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

He KNOWS the grace of God in his life, having been delivered from alcoholism and trouble of all kinds, into the grace and love of God, who forgave him all his sins.

He has recently started the “Koinonia Ministry of the First Southern Baptist Church of Yucca Valley”.  Bill is a long-time real estate broker, who noticed there was no program in his church to contact and welcome newcomers to the community.  With that, he recently began a ministry within his church from scratch, which is now highly organized and involves a number of people.  The program has become self-sustaining and unless the Lord returns first, is likely to outlive us all.

A literal “gift basket” of materials is given to new homebuyers, including items prepared by church members who are part of the Koinonia “team” of volunteers.  They have plenty of printed materials inspired by Bill, which includes such words as, “We may not be able to go to some foreign field, but there is a mission field right in our own back yard.”  That’s vintage Bill, and he encourages us to work for God, in whatever circumstances He may have placed us.

As mentioned, Bill’s favorite chapter in the Bible is 1st Corinthians 13, especially verses 4-8:  “love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

“Agape” love is not natural to any of us, but is indeed the gift of God, who does impart that love to His people.  Bill’s closing words in one of the documents of the “Koinonea” ministry, are as follows:  “Let’s begin to really LIVE Agape love!

He’s right.  We are given EVERYTHING in Christ Jesus, especially His love, and we have relatively few “moments” of time and opportunity here on earth to express that love to other people.  And that love can take simple forms, accessible to us all.

Not only are the newcomers to Bill’s community blessed by what he has done, but he has managed to involve a lot of the people of his church, bringing them out of the pews and into the lives of others.  Ordinary folk now:  Bake cookies, make bread (included among the items in the baskets), decorate delivery bags, set up tables for breakfast, cook, and especially they are encouraged to pray.

There are many in the world who would force people to do their will.  What we are given in Christ, is an end to self, and the birth of genuine concern for those around us.  Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Alexander (the Great), Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires; but upon what did we rest the creation of our genius?  Upon force.  Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

Would you die for Christ?  Will you live for Him?  Will you give Him the best of the time you have and the resources He has given you? 

Father, we thank You for Bill George (and for people like him), that he is willing to view life and people through Your love.  He does not see externals alone, but lets the “agape” love of God in Christ be his life.  Please do the same with us, Lord.  Let us love like Bill.  Let us love in the power of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  In His Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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