“Why are we fighting these people?”
These were the words overheard by a translator in Mosul last month. It was conversation between two injured ISIS fighters. They had been wounded in the battle for Mosul, and were being treated at a field hospital by a team of Christian doctors and nurses.
Two of our friends were part of that team. They shared this story with us shortly after they got back. The hospital they served at was set up by by a Christian organization. It was the only working hospital in Mosul during their time there, and they treated the wounded regardless of affiliation.
Can you imagine what those ISIS fighters must be experiencing? Here are their enemies, the ones they have been taught to hate; treating them with love and compassion. That type of love is disarming. It causes people to question their hate. Not even ISIS fighters are immune to this love. For it is the love of God working itself out in the lives of men.
And so as Valentines Day approaches, let us seek to celebrate this love. Not the sappy love we hear about in music or movies. But a love that transforms. The Greeks called it ‘AGAPE’ love, which is unconditional, unmerited and absolutely amazing. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. An overflowing love. A love that flourishes and beautifies everything around it.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a quote from my friend who was serving in Mosul last month with his wife.
“I have witnessed true light that has shone in all this darkness. I have seen the real hope that Christ can bring, especially when his people come together to love and serve one another, despite the risks and the cost. I have seen physically scarred faces smile with a peace that surpasses understanding. I have seen bodies that have been broken, get up and rise. I have seen lives saved. And I have seen the miracles that can happen when we choose to love.. even our enemy.”
Love One Another
“Above all, love each other deeply” 1 Peter 4:8
We all have those people in our life that are ‘difficult to love’. For some reason or another, the ‘feeling’ of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me 🙄 Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.
According to Peter, loving each other was essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to ‘maintain an intense love for each other’. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the famous 1 Corinthians 13. Without love, we gain nothing.
The love in these verses is translated in the greek as ‘agape’. When the Bible says that ‘God is love’, this is the word being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.
This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love ‘covers over a multitude of sins’. This type of love has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it ‘feels natural’)—but this type of love is what matters most.
So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)