AGAPE love was a word and embodying an attitude that packed a spiritual wallop. It transformed millions of people around the world into persons willing to die for their convictions. At the same time it aroused millions of bloodthirsty persecutors, eager to eradicate those who believe in the power of this word.
Now the question "How can I learn to love?"
Psychologists tell us that babies are not born knowing how to love. However, they do have the capacity to receive love, to experience it. In effect they have to learn to love by observation and experience how they are loved.
If a child does not experience it from parents, it dramatically influences the child. Dr. Rene Spitz of New York University has studied many children living in secular orphanages and concludes that unloved children are much slower in development. Love is not only a part of our development, it aids our total development.
It is said we learn how to love from the parent of the same sex, and we learn who to love from the parent of the opposite sex. Ideally we learn to love from our parents. With a breakdown in the traditional family and with so many poor role models for children to relate to, more and more people are finding it difficult to learn how to love.
How are children growing up on a battlefield going to learn to love? How can adults learn to love? One of my dear adult companions who had no home life as a child told me of how he never knew who his dad was and how he seldom saw his mother. He grew up not only without proper parental role models but without Christ. After he was saved he said, "I never knew what love meant. I had a wonderful wife, but I never really knew how to love her until I was saved. I learned the real meaning of love when I met Jesus."
Enrollment is now open for a short course in how to learn to love. There is a way to learn to love even in an environment devoid of parental love. Knowing of the breakdown of role models, Jesus stepped in and demonstrated His special kind of love.
You may be the product of a parentless home or a home where two adults you called parents reared you without love, BUT you can learn to love. Regardless of your age you can learn to love the same way a child is supposed to learn, that is, by feeling and seeing how you are loved. In this case, how you are loved by Jesus Christ.
The Bible says, "God is love." It doesn't simply say, "God loves." He does, of course; but the point is He is love. To learn to love go to the source and experience His love. By doing so you can learn to love.
Notice in our text of 1 John 4:19 the process: "We love . . . because He first loved us." That is an electrifying one-line summary of how to learn to love. Christ has shown us the true meaning of love by loving us. By experiencing His love we learn how to love. When we commit our life to Christ, we begin to experience His love; and it spontaneously shows in our relationships with others. Three prominent traits of His love for us are noted in our text. As a result of knowing and experiencing these characteristics of love, we spontaneously learn how to love.