“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing….Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away….but now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:1-3, 8, 13)”.
Quick to criticize, noisy gongs and clanging cymbals abound; but the love that never fails is a rare and fleeting occurrence. How does one make sense of all this, particularly in light of Apostle Paul’s proclamation that without love we are nothing? Yet, we worry that to extend love to others without conditions belies a forgetfulness about the conditions of our acceptance by God.
Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If God loved us while we were yet sinners, why do we find it so hard to love others? In a world that largely perceives Christians to be in-fighters, hypocritical, argumentative, and judgmental naysayers, would it not demonstrate maturity to reexamine our fear of what it might look like if we tried to take Paul’s words about love to heart?
In Jesus Christ, is the full stature and maturity of humanity on display. He taught that love was the summary and fulfillment of the entire law and the message of the prophets—love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If the greatest of the virtues is love, as affirmed by Jesus Christ, can all who seek to follow envision becoming someone who seeks to make love their chief responsibility and goal?
“Now abide faith, hope and love,
these three; but the greatest of these is love”
…THE WORD “AGAPAO” AND “APOLOGETICS”
“Agape” is one of several Greek words for love. When the word “agape” is used in the Bible, it refers to a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good. Agape love, in the Bible, is love that comes from God. As 1 John 4:8 states, “God is love [agapos],” meaning He is the source of agape love. His love is undeserved, gracious, and sacrificial. God set the standard for agape love in sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners. By drawing closer to God and experiencing His love, we are able to begin to understand what this real love means. Only through Him can we show and experience agape love.
The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which refers to a speech of defense, typically for one’s own self. The word appears eight times in the New Testament. Sometimes it is used generally (Acts 22:1, 25:16; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11, 2 Timothy 4:16), and other times it is explicitly connected to a defense of the Gospel (Philippians 1:7, 16; 1 Peter 3:15). Most notably in 1 Peter 3:15, when Peter says, “Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
In studying Apologetics, you learn how to navigate questions and how to respond to scientific and historical questions related to the Christian faith. You became skilled at proving Jesus’s resurrection and the superiority of the Christian worldview over other religious views. But do analytical arguments carry the power that God through Jesus Christ exhibits? Apologetics is about persuasively sharing the Gospel to win people to Christ. Today, in a world where Christianity is viewed as intolerant and offensive, people are going to wonder why we hold onto our faith?
Agapao Apologetics practiced at Next Level Calling is never a matter of abstract theorizing. Rather, it is born of person-to-person engagement with the love among Christians and unbelievers. Ours is a simple ministry where we open our hearts to people who come to study, work, and eat with us. There is no grand plan for a series of books or an influential intellectual platform. Our constant dependence on the Holy Spirit allows us to provide a reasonable and rational response to those who are seeking.
Everyone who came in contact with Jesus Christ knew how much He cared, whether they believed in His message or not. That is the goal of our outreach to this lost and broken world. Make no mistake, the work of apologetics is one of the greatest demonstrations of our love for others. It is a labor of love to want to put in the time to study the truths of the Gospel and share them with others. But the love of Jesus is only apparent when we care more about winning hearts than winning arguments.
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