The Love of God and Yogurt

Recently my wife was eating some super-healthy kind of yogurt, and I got a laugh out of the description on the container: Incase that's hard to read in the photo, it says, "Agapé" means "love" in Greek. When you discover how indulgently creamy and delicious this healthy, 0% fat yogurt is, you're going to discover pure, divine agapé. Prepare to be stirred...

This, friends, is how words lose their meaning. Simple observation will tell us that eating yogurt is in fact not a reliable way to "discover pure, divine agape," nor any other kind of love. Dallas Willard has a great definition of love: "to will the good of another." As he points out, as much as I may say that I love chocolate cake, it isn't true. I don't love chocolate cake, because I want to eat it.

The scriptures speak of agape as the highest kind of love, perfect love, the love of a perfect God toward his children, as expressed most fully in Jesus. This is something significantly better than the experience we might get when we eat organic yogurt.

The agape love of his Father that Jesus demonstrated to the world two millennia ago was powerful enough to begin a world movement of unparalleled influence by people committed to, above all things, love. After all, our Teacher's command on his last night with his students before laying down his life for them was, "Love each other as I have loved you."

Scriptures and history are full of people trying to put words around this love, and the most successful attempts are still stumbling efforts, but because they represent the reality of agape much more closely than the yogurt tub, here are a few that come to mind:

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God
(Rich Mullins, 1993)
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.
(Charles Wesley, 1747)

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (St. Paul in Ephesians 3:18-19, about AD 60)