The Reason for the Season? Agape Love!

by  Jeff Jenkins I FRA Appalachian Region Consultant
We’re all making a mad dash toward the end of 2021, and I can say it has been a “year like no other”.  As far as FRA goes, I find myself on deck to write the next FRA blog. My mind says supply-chain, labor, trucking, logging capacity, H2B, etc., but let’s change it up a little. It’s the Christmas season!  I’m reminded to keep it simple, be thankful, and remember “agape” love. Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to unconditional love, "the highest form of love". It’s the love of God for man and of man for God.  The definition is easier to memorize and recite than to put it into practice.  Believe me, I know.   A few examples of that “unconditional” part should provide a clearer picture of just what I’m talking about.  They say that confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation.  We’ll see! 

Recently, I pulled up in a McDonald’s drive-thru expecting to spend $5 on a greasy burger, fries, and large, sweet tea, half and half.   I was shocked when I heard the person in front of me had paid for it.  Oh, I remember now, the guy who had jumped in front of me where the dual lanes merged back together, and I was sure he did it just for spite. That was the guy! What a guilt trip!  He didn’t even ask if I was “red” or “blue” with my politics! Then, my wife received a small amount of money from a distant relative who passed away without a will (Do you have a will? That’s another blog…). Part of it has gone to our kids and their spouse/girlfriend and a portion to a teacher whose husband was in a serious car accident. His recovery will take months, and the teacher shared she was worried about their finances. Did I mention, I waited in traffic for over an hour at that accident scene until it was cleaned up. The entire event annoyed me because I was late and hungry. It never crossed my mind to say a prayer for the driver or his family. Finally, the strong weekend storms that passed through Tennessee, western Kentucky and Illinois spawned killer tornadoes and leveled towns in all three states. Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear, talked about the destruction and loss of life while the media captured video of the catastrophic damage and grieving families. In the middle of all that tragedy, pain, suffering, and sorrow, we see unconditional kindness, sacrifice, and agape love!

So what’s the point?   When people of faith, or not, talk about “agape” love, we know how to define it, but putting it into action can make it much tougher. Remember, the word “Agape” is man’s love for God and Gods love for man. Offering unconditional love to others is the evidence of our love for God, and that kindness toward others doesn’t depend on their race, ethnicity, or political bias. The human condition makes it difficult to offer anything unconditionally, but FRA members are the kindest people I know. Maybe it’s our love for nature or strong faith, or both. The love of nature moves us because of its beauty and tranquility. Loving people can be more complicated. Let’s celebrate the Christmas season by getting back to what’s most important.

An American poet, Edwin Markham, penned these words:

There is a destiny that makes us brothers:

None goes his way alone:

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.

God bless you and yours.

Jeff Jenkins

FRA Appalachian Region Consultant