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Sloppy Agape

There’s a false understanding moving through our American churches these days that “Christian” and “Christianity” always means nice, kind, loving and willing to take any insult with a smile. This has been called “sloppy agape” in years past. The phrase was coined from one of the Greek words for love: agape. And indeed, agape is the high form of love. It’s self-giving love, and it takes it’s meaning from God’s love in Christ where Jesus died in our place on Calvary’s Cross. But, agape is not cheap, nor is it so packed with feelings that it misses the truth.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with this high calling to love. It’s a godly example of how we should be. The problem is that too often those who offend, and those who intend to offend, criticize “Christians” for being less than…well, tolerant of their bad behavior.

Being a Christian, who practices the love of Christ, does not mean that we’re stupid. There’s a time for being a martyr, and there is a time for fighting back. That’s the issue here, and it is not easy, and we will never really understand it this side of heaven.

Jesus, our perfect example, did not fight back, and He was crucified. Many Christian martyrs over the years have taken His example literally. They have gone to their graves while far less deserving people have lived on, continuing to do damage others and “raise Cain,” so to speak.

In the final analysis, the right thing to do, according to all that Jesus was and what He taught, is to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5.39). Yet, God in His infinite wisdom has given us as believers the free will to decide when to fight back. That’s a terrible, awful  responsibility.

Maybe in the long run, it’s better to practice “sloppy agape,” knowing that at least we’re trying to be more like Jesus. But if the occasion arises where we rightfully need to defend ourselves, may it be strongly tempered with genuine concern for the other.

2 Responses to “Sloppy Agape”

  1. Kenari August 4, 2012

    As a pastor’s wife- this topic is near to my heart!First of all, I have to say that I do not bieleve that the “Church” is at fault!! The Bible is very clear, that it is to be us PARENTS that are to be training our children in righteousness!!! Sunday School & Youth Group were started many, many years later & really were started for the “non-churched” kids! Those statistics are sad, but I think they are a lot due to the fact that parents have been relying on the church to teach their children about Christ- instead of taking an active role themselves (& actually living what they bieleve)!A couple things our church does that I LOVE are… when children turn 4, they join their parents in “big” church- children younger than that are certainly welcome, but there is nursery & children’s church provided for children under 4. Although I do understand how difficult it can be for some kids to sit so long (we are all about wiggles at our house), we bieleve that having children in the service, plants seeds in their little hearts! :)We also have just started a curriculum (our pastors & elders & teachers have created) that lasts 7 years & walks everyone through the Bible… all Sunday School classes of various ages as well as the sermon are focused on the SAME topic… are memorizing the same verse, etc. In this way, children (along with their parents) will go through an in depth study of the whole Bible twice.Sorry, this is getting way too long! ;)Great question!Jessica

  2. Erna August 6, 2012

    Oh my word we are SO on the same track!! I think my view of Jesus makes some a bit uncomfortable, too-but I think that is good I think He would tell some of us that we have msesid the point that following Jesus is not all about DOing Church, but BEing the Church-not only to the world, but to each other. I have been ruminating lately about the original Church in Acts, and how they truly were community, family-living among each other, sharing all the had and how extremely different that looks today. I believe that much of our mentality and theology has strayed far away from His original intention and the true meaning of Church.Anyway I could stay on the soapbox awhile about that glad we are on the same wavelength!

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About New Hope Christian Fellowship

New Hope Christian Fellowship is a nondenominational Christian church in Show Low, Arizona.

This Show Low nondenominational church is comprised of an independent body of believers, who have found comfort in biblical love, fellowship and spiritual unity. We practice New Testament Christianity in adherence to the Word of God, in faith, in obedience, and servanthood. We are dedicated to that which blesses the Lord Jesus Christ and lifts up His commandments, especially to love one another.

What We Believe: “To do things Jesus’ way, by Jesus’ teaching, and for Jesus’ glory.”

Life Verse: “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)


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