'Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it 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.’ (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)
I’ve heard this passage countless times and to be honest, I think it’s become a bit of a cliché. Surely we know how to love? But take another look, these words are important. I hate to say it but we need to learn how to love.
The Bible tends to use the word love in a big way. Far bigger than the way I might use it to describe how much love Yorkshire puddings or my favourite jumper. Far bigger even, than the way I might use it to talk about how much I love my family or friends or church. The Greek translation for the word Paul uses here is agape.
Agape: a love that is independent of circumstance, a love that is selfless and is given undeservedly. A love for what is most often unlovely.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)
This kind of love is not defined by a fuzzy feeling but by bold action. Jesus gives us a wealth of examples of what real, radical love looks like. My favourite one is John 13, where he washes the feet of his disciples. Just for a bit of context, foot washing is something that slaves did for their masters, children for their parents and disciples for their teachers. It was counted as an act of huge intimacy, respect and humility towards another person. If I’m honest, this wouldn’t be my go to thing to show someone I love him or her. But for Jesus this is radical: the Son of God washing the feet of normal blokes.
In fact, Jesus was being so outrageous that Peter tries to refuse (v8). Just to make it even better, we see in verse 2 that Jesus already knows Judas will betray him. And yet ‘having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the last’ (v1). That included washing the feet of those who he knew full well would reject him.
Radical love doesn’t fit in to a box or adhere to what we necessarily think it looks like to love others. It is other-person focused; it humbles us to wash the feet of and lay our lives down for our enemies. This kind of love is radical and defines us as His.
Love is not all about the grand actions either. It is just as much to do with the sacrifices that we might consider to be distinctly un-radical. When we love even in the hard little gritty bits of life where it would be so easy to lose our temper, to be impatient or to hold a grudge, that’s radical love.
Love is what love does.
The more we push ourselves to love like this, the more we understand the same agape of God. God’s love allows us to love the un-lovable; it empowers us to be gracious and to step out boldly and be radical.
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
My recommendation for you today is the song Hosanna by Hillsong. Listen particularly to the words of bridge.
Think of a way you can radically love someone today and do it! Send someone a bible verse, buy them a packet of their favourite biscuits, offer to help out at home doing something you really don’t like doing, set some time aside in a busy week specifically to sit and listen to someone who is struggling, pray for your enemy… The list is endless! No matter how difficult, let Jesus’ radical love fill your heart and allow Him to be your example.
It has been a privilege to read, reflect, listen, pray and do during this Lent period.
We hope it has challenged you to remember that Every Day Counts.
We hope it has encouraged you to start saying YES To God.
We hope it has equipped you with ideas and resources to live out your faith.
We hope it has reminded you that Lent is not all about giving up, it is about picking up and more than anything else it is about Jesus.
But let’s not stop here. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives and we are called to live lives in service of Jesus.
Keep making every day count.
Katrina is a second year Sports student at studying at Durham University. Although often missing her wonderful Cambridge home, Katrina has found Durham to be a hard place not to fall in love with. Katrina is passionate about watching girls grow with the assurance and knowledge that they are valuable and crazily loved daughters of God.