Agape: Beyond Description

33deb6fThe best way to describe something is to use an analogy – a thing with closest correspondence or similarity that is also known to your audience. For example, the best way to describe how honey tastes (to a person that has never tasted honey but familiar with sugar) is to say honey tastes like sugar. Although the chemical composition and taste of sugar are distinct from that of honey at least one can get a rough idea of how honey tastes like by using a sugar analogy.

Describing agape (God’s love) is even harder because it doesn’t have the best analogies. God’s love is a wonderful experience that is beyond human description.

After having a sacred experience with agape Paul never spoke about it for fourteen whole years. When he finally opened up Paul had no better name for it than calling it, “peace that passes understanding”. If Paul, one of the most eloquent intellectuals couldn’t find fitting words to describe how agape really feels you can understand how humble minds like mine can struggle to even attempt to explain it.

According to the testimony of Christ, of the scriptures and of those that have tested it, God’s love is better than anything known to man- better than the pleasures of this world put together. All other pleasures – of riches, sex, drugs, fame, power and human life itself- apart from the fact that they often come with dire side effects, their combined ecstasy is by far the most inferior, addictive and short lived.

Agape has no logical explanation. Most of the pleasurable experiences result from a known cause such as food, drink, a new (dream) car, promotion, sex, drugs, miracle, new status etc. But agape is without any apparent material or psychological reason. In fact for those familiar with it, agape is often experienced when there is a compelling logical reason to feel otherwise.

How can you explain being full of peace, joy and worship after loosing your children, your possessions, your employees, your friends, your wife and your health? Yet this is precisely what happened to Job. Despite losing almost everything else, Job was grateful to still have the most important treasures of all – God’s presence.

This is not intended to discredit material pleasures in any way. God created everything for us to enjoy. However, my deepest desire is to point out to something even more significant but often less understood – God’s love. The blessing of agape is more fulfilling, everlasting and, as King Solomon said, brings riches and pleasures without undesirable side effects (Prov. 10:22). Simply put, the love of God puts everything else into perspective and therefore more gratifying.

To treasure something over and above the love of God can only serve as a proof that one hasn’t really experienced the love of God as yet.

The best way to understand the true taste of the love of God is to experience it yourself. As King David said, taste and see how good God is (Psalms 34:8). You do this not by becoming more religious or by just a mere confession or prayer. As D. L Moody can testify we taste agape by having a personal face-to-face experience with His presence.

“.. then… came a great hunger into my soul. I knew not what it was. I began to cry as I never did before. The hunger increased. I really felt that I did not want to live any longer if I could not have this power … I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York – Oh, what a day! I cannot describe it; I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to me….I can only say, God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you would gave me the whole [city of] Glasgow. (Elmer Towns, Understanding the Deeper Life, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984)

As I leave you with these incredible worship lyrics, may you be engulfed with an intense desire for His presence that will lead you to the stream of His unspeakable love, peace and joy.


If there are words for Him then I don’t have them.See my brain has not yet reached the point where it could form a thought that could adequately describe the greatness of our God. And my lungs have not yet developed the ability to release a breath with enough agility to breathe out the greatness of His Love. And my voice, see my voice is so inhibited, restrained by human limits that it’s hard to even sing the praise up, you see, if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

My God, His Grace is remarkable, mercies are innumerable, strength is impenetrable, He is honourable, accountable, favourable. He’s unsearchable yet knowable, indefinable, yet approachable, indescribable, yet personal. He is beyond comprehension, further than imagination, constant through generations, King of every nation, but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

You see my words are few to try and capture the One True God, using my vocabulary will never do, but I use words as an expression, an expression of worship to a Saviour, a Saviour who is both worthy and deserving of my praise, so I use words.

My heart extols the Lord, blesses His Name forever. He has won my heart, captured my mind, and has bound them both together. He has defeated me in my rebellion, conquered me in my sin, He has welcomed me into His presence, completely invited me in. He has made Himself the object of my sight, flooding me with mercies in the morning, drowning me with Grace in the night, but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

But what I do have is good news, for my God knew that man-made words would never do, for words are just tools that we use to point to the truth….So it is not just words that I proclaim, for my words point to The Word, and The Word has a name, hope has a name, joy has a name, peace has a name, love has a name, and that name is Jesus Christ!

This powerful poem is  by Pastor Isaac Wimberly, performed in Kari Jobe’s ‘Forever’.

One thought on “Agape: Beyond Description

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