3.3.4 Distinctive traits of agapê
There is a one-sided interpretation of Paul (e.g. Nygren) that would define agapê as that which is primarily unmotivated by anything lovable in the recipient, a love for those who have no merit or are even enemies.
It is true that the model for Christian love is God’s love for us ‘when we were still sinners’ (Rom 5:6).
But even with all these characteristics, Christian agapê is not the same as God’s love for us as unworthy sinners and enemies. “…God’s love in Christ… has now created a community, whose members are worthy of love (cf. 1 Cor 8:11; Rom 14:15)…”p.148
The Christian loves other believers because they are sons of God, his own brethren ‘for whom Christ died’. Furthermore, if true agapê could only be for those who are unloveable, then God’s love for us would cease now that he has made us lovable.
As with the words “brother” and “brotherly love”, “agapê in Paul has overtones of human warmth and affection. Membership of the community engages the whole man.”p.149
Does this mean that God’s love for the unlovable “is not the model of christian love?”p.149 It is not in the sense that we give value to something that was previously without value. However our love is certainly patterned after God’s love in the sense that it is without self-interest. “Christian love reflects God’s unmotivated love in as much as it is utterly selfless.p.149
In the community of Christ, “…the Christian no longer ‘lives to himself’ (cf 2 Cor 5:15), but ‘imitates’ the selflessness of Christ, who did not ‘please himself’ (cf 1 Cor 10:33-11:1; Rom 15:1-3);”p.149
Updated 2009-10-20 (build:63) by Andrew Fountain