Agape speaks of a love that exceeds passion, friendship and benevolence. Agape speaks of a love that goes beyond self yet is more than an unselfish feeling. Agape speaks of a love that acts. Agape speaks of a love that loves unlovables.Catherine Booth – writing in an era of wanton nominalism and 'run wild' philanthropy talks of 'sham compassion' and 'spurious charity'. Her use of words 120 odd years ago has had me ruminating over what 'spurious charity' might look like.
Mission surely is more than just an act of charity, or perhaps something is lost in the nuance of the contemporary use of both words - mission and charity? Caritas in the vulgate is translated from Agape love (1Co 13:13). Agape speaks of unconditional love an attribute God'’s own heart, a kingdom value. Agape speaks of a love that exceeds passion, friendship and benevolence. Agape speaks of a love that goes beyond self yet is more than an unselfish feeling. Agape speaks of a love that acts. Agape speaks of a love that loves unlovables. Charity - or Mission for that matter - without agape certainly is spurious!
Reflecting on Good Samaritan and Prodigal Son -– Kraybill explores what it is to love your neighbour and gives insights to Agape as a theme of mission.
- Agape is indiscriminate -– love beyond discrimination without obligation without lines of responsibility and exclusion and responds to persons not social categories.
- Agape is bold -– suspends social norms, ecclesiastical norms which justify callous disinterest by penetrating social barricades that hide people in prisons, hospitals, addiction centres and ghettos of all sorts.
- Agape is inconvenient, risky, takes time, expensive, jeopardizes social status
- Agape is courageous and aggressive, more than warm fuzzy feelings, more than good attitudes towards others. It doesn'’t stop with sweet smiles.
- Agape captures the significance of Love your neighbour (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:28-31; Lk 10:25-27)
"Jesus modelled agape. He embodied it by being an advocate for the poor. He violated civil and religious laws in the face of human need. His words and deeds insulted the rich and powerful. They didn'’t think he was loving. He championed the downtrodden, the outcasts, and the oppressed even when his behaviour created a ruckus" (Kraybill)Kraybill, D (1990) The Upside-down kingdom. Herald
Mission without agape certainly is spurious, for mission without agape is mission without the kingdom.
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