By Rev Arnold Chow
September 25, 2022
“I hope we’ll have more love in the NPAC family,” one member expressed this wish when we chatted about the 70-year-old NPAC family. This remark stirred up thoughts in me for quite some time.
There is no lack of discussion about love in this generation. In the love songs I heard when I was growing up, “love” was usually portrayed as mutual delight in one another, the feelings of I liking you and you adoring me. The most moving ones are often those about the imagined feelings of unrequited, unattainable love when looking back to the old days. More recent lyrics even simply reduce love to passion and desire. When we grow older, we are not as easily bothered by matters of love. But do we have myths or misconceptions about love as a result of how it is shaped by popular culture and defined by the mass media?
In the spiritual family, is “love one another” simply considered as a kind of very touching or passionate atmosphere? Love that is based only on feelings will not go far nor will it be sustained.
The Apostle John has said: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
The Lord sacrificed Himself on the cross and became the role model of love. The Greek word for “love” is agape, which is translated by some as “willing to lay down oneself.” This is most appropriate. The Father was “willing to lay down Himself” and let His only beloved Son sacrifice for us. The Son was “willing to lay down Himself” and give His life for us. Because of God’s love, we would know how to love others in His truth.
While the church should be warm and friendly, the kind of unique love mentioned above should all the more be manifested in us because we have received “God’s love.” In other words, “love one another” is not confined to warm gatherings, reciprocal friendship or a culture of mutual tolerance and understanding.
To love one another, we cannot avoid following the example and practice of Jesus who willingly went for the cross. Indeed, it is far from easy to lay down one’s perceptions and interests and give oneself for others. However, since Christ died for us, and with such love, we are empowered with the motivation to be “willing to lay down ourselves.” It depends on us as to whether we would choose to imitate Christ and put others before ourselves.
In the New Testament, phrases with the word “agape” appear 310 times, and one-fifth of them, that is 62 times, are found in the epistles of John. We can see that John taught this in response to the needs of the contemporary church. In the sermons of the fourth quarter of the Anniversary Year, we will give more thoughts to “God’s love.” From the second half of October, through studying 1 John, we would know that with our lives being lit up by God’s love, we can live our lives with more love in a generation full of estrangements.
The hope by the church member at the beginning of this sharing is one which I very much agree to. Dear NPAC family, blessed birthday! It is my hope that in the days and years to come, we will make strides in loving God and loving man.