Minute Meditation: “Strength to Love”

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Agape: Greek for Will-Love or Choice-Love

The title of my minute meditation is taken from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book Strength to Love. In particular, it is drawn from Dr. King’s analysis of the meaning of the Greek word agape, which, in the New Testament, is translated “love.” I call it “will-love” or “choice-love” to distinguish it from romantic or erotic love and sentimental love.

It is a weakness, requiring no kind of strength, to hate someone. Hate is spontaneous, impulsive. It is, in a word, easy. It is taking the “path of least resistance.” Hate involves no inner struggle, no challenge, to will another person’s good, often despite himself or herself.

But love requires hard work. It is a choice, a difficult, arduous task, to will another human being’s good. That is not always easy. Think about it for a moment: Is it easy to love those who want to hurt you? Is it easy to love those who are “unlovable,” having betrayed your trust and trampled upon your values? Is it easy to love those who malign you? Is it easy to love those who do not love you or, even worse, hate you? Not at all!

Love, then, is not a weakness. It often involves a great deal of inner strength and struggle to choose to love those who hurt you, oppose you and even wish for your destruction. The ethic of love was displayed magnificently by Jesus of Nazareth. It is also called “the way of the cross.” It is the way his followers are supposed to live.