Understanding "Agape Love" as the Highest Form of Intimacy

What is love?

Songs and Hallmark cards may shout one thing, but in the Bible, love — and more specifically, agape love — is what frames the Great Commandment.

The first part of the Great Commandment, as phrased in the Message, tells us to "Love God, your God, with your whole heart; Love him with all that's in you, love Him with all you've got!" (Deuteronomy 6:5).

The second part of the Great Commandment is to love others as one would love oneself. In speaking this, Jesus is referencing an Old Testament teaching as recorded in Leviticus 19:18.

"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:18

Agape Love Defined
The kind of love that doesn't retaliate is what we call agape love. Agape love, which is most often crowned as the highest form of Christian love, is the kind of love and action that shows empathy; extends the desire for good of the beloved; wants the best; extends help or demonstrates good intentions; and is intended for everyone. Agape love is sacrificial.

But it's certainly not easy. Loving with agape love means not always getting our way. Sometimes it means requiring us to act in the best interest of the other. To show empathy and understanding and to extend grace, especially when it's hardest to give.

Reflect
What are some ways agape love "goes against" love as defined by popular culture?