In a sermon I once wrote, I focused on the Greek word for love: agape, in English, translated as "charitable love." Agape is not "eros": erotic love. Nor is it "philos": brotherly/sisterly love for friends. Nor is it "storge": family love. Agape love is like grace, a free gift for others that is undeserved, unearned or unmerited. Agape is love as revealed in Jesus —spiritual and selfless, a model for humanity. I ended the sermon by saying, "If we are to be like Jesus, we are to love one another."

I've always thought of agape as loving with your whole heart, but I've advanced my belief that agape is seeing the Christ in everyone. Yet we love some and exclude others. God extended His love to us so we can extend His love to others. Just think of what joy each of us would experience, if we followed Jesus' command to love one another.

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I believe John Lennon said it right with his song, "All You Need Is Love." In Jefferson Airplane's recording of "Somebody to Love," the singer seeks love through a personal relationship: "When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies, don't you want somebody to love?" In November 1976, Freddie Mercury's song "Somebody to Love" was on the charts for eight weeks and became No. 2, then went silver; he sang, "Can anybody find me somebody to love." Lastly, Waylon Jennings's "Lookin' For Love" makes his error perfectly clear: "I was looking for love in all the wrong places."

Unfortunately, too many folks do look for love in the wrong places. They try to obtain love by buying those products that marketers promise, through their advertising, will give them friends, happiness and popularity when they drive a certain car, drink a certain beverage, or even switch to a different prescription drug.

Mother Teresa said it right when she answered a man who had asked her after one of her speeches, "Mother Teresa, how can I help you?" Her answer to him and to all of us was: "Go home and love your family." If we would love the people within our reach, we could bring peace to the world. It is the way Jesus meant it to be when he said, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love" (John 15:9 NRSV).

Realizing that you have the love of God within you, you will find you can extend it to others without losing anything. In "A Course in Miracles" page 9, Jesus tells us, "You are the work of God, and His work is wholly loveable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is." And on page 99: "Teach only love, for that is what you are. As you teach so will you learn." Those who communicate love promote love. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12 NRSV).

The Rev. Ellin M. Dize is executive director of nonprofit NRS Inc. and facilitates A Course in Miracles spiritual discussion group at St. Paul's UCC. She can be contacted at NRSsolutions@yahoo.com.

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