“Word for Today” – John 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 6, 2009 at 4:45 am 2 comments

heart-2Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.  One afternoon as I’m lounging in our bedroom reading a book, Melody comes bouncing in to me and asks, “Zach, do you love me?”  “Of course I love you, darling,” I shoot back immediately, my eyes still glued to my book.  “But why do you love me?” she presses.

Why do you love me?  This question was going to require a little more thought.  So, I put down my book, locked eyes with Melody, and then, thoughtfully, carefully, I shared with her a mere sampling of the many reasons I love her.  “I love you because you bring a smile to my face when I’m sad.  I love you because your eyes light up my eyes.  I love you because of your effervescent personality.  I love you because I can trust you to love me till death do us part.” 

Why do you love me?  This is a question that wives ask of husbands, children ask of parents, and nephews ask of uncles.  But frankly, when Melody asked me the question, “Why do you love me?” although I had to give her question a little thought, I didn’t have to give it a lot.  Because Melody gives me so many reasons to love her.  She is so gracious, so kind, so willing to be my faithful partner and companion.  Melody is lovable.

But then, there are those other people.  You know the kind.  The kind who aren’t so lovable.  The kind who are loud and obnoxious; insecure and attention seeking; socially awkward and not well spoken; always in crisis and always wanting to tell you all about it.  These are the kinds of people that, if we had our way, we would just assume avoid.  These are the kinds of people that, if they happen to strike up a conversation with us, lead us almost immediately to begin looking at our watches as we try to give them non-verbal cues that they, and we, need to move on.

In our reading for today from John 15, Jesus speaks about love.  And Jesus calls on us to love not only the lovable, but all people:  “My command is this,” Jesus says, “Love each other as I have loved you” (verse 12).  The Greek word for “love” here is agapao, denoting a love that loves not according to someone’s lovability, but actually in spite of their unlovability.  And this is the love, Jesus says, to which we are called – to love others, even when they are utterly unlovable.

Agapao love – this is the way for those who follow Christ.  But then Jesus continues with a warning.  For even though we are to love others, that does not mean that our love will be reciprocated.  Indeed, love can sometimes be returned with hate:  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own” (verse 18-19).  The people of this world will sometimes hate us even when we love them.  It is important to note that the verb for the world’s love is different from the verb for a Christian’s love:  phileo.  This word is used to describe not perfect, unmerited love, but love that is based on lovability of another.  In other words, phileo loves only if it deems another person worthy of its affection.  And the world, Jesus says, often does not deem Christians worthy of their affections.  And so, they withhold phileo and instead offer hatred.

Interestingly, Jesus pairs up these two words, agapao and phileo, in verse 13 when he says, “Greater love (agapao) has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (phileo).”  And it’s here that the unconditional love of God and his people meets the conditional love of the world.  For Jesus speaks of bringing the agapao love of God into the lives of those who only know the phileo love of the world.  Jesus speaks of loving others, even when they are unlovable; having an agape love for others, even when they have only a phileo love for you.

So, who do you love?  But more importantly, why do you love them?  If you have plenty of answers to this second question, praise be to God.  It’s always a joy when others give us “reasons” to love them.  But if you stutter and stammer in the face of this second question, praise be to God as well.  For God has given you a chance to show agapao love to another person even when that other person seems utterly unlovable.  After all, this is exactly the kind of love that God showed to us.  For when we were utterly unlovable, God loved us anyway.  As he has said, “I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Romans 9:25).  When we were unlovable, God loved us anyway.  Now love others in that same way.  Love others in God’s way.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – John 14 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – John 16 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. margie maroney  |  April 6, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Zach, great message. Actually, I asked my husband the same thing about a week ago. I needed him to tell me what he thought was special about me. Guess it’s a girl thing that you guys will just have to deal with.
    Also, I love the picture you posted with your message. I am going to try to enlarge it so I can paint it.
    Thanks so much and make it a great day!

    • 2. zachkvet  |  April 6, 2009 at 7:33 am


      I’m glad you enjoyed today’s blog. And I want to see the painting when you’re done! I’m sure it’ll be gorgeous.



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