For Christians agape ( αγάπη pronounced ah-gah-pay) is the key Christian value—it lies at the root of all other values. It means respect, affection, benevolence, goodwill and concern for the welfare of the one loved. It is selfless, and means putting others before oneself.
The word is Greek and is used throughout the New Testament for Christian love. It is different from, and more than, friendship. The supreme explanation of the word agape is the unearned love God had for humanity — a love so great that God was willing to send his only son to suffer and die on the cross.
In his Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made the point that we should extend our Christian love to all people of the world, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction. We must practise that Christian love even toward our enemies (Matthew chapter 5: verses 43-48). in fact agape does not distinguish between worthy and unworthy people or friends and enemies — Jesus’ Golden Rule is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We should not say or do anything unless we are certain that we are happy the same thing should be done to ourselves. We should also be positive about doing good to others.
I Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4-7: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Agape in School
In school, agape translates into an ethos of care and concern which embraces all members of the school community and beyond. It should not be thought of as a wishy-washy concept—it can take the form of “tough love” for the good of the community.
- How do you support the “friendless” members of your school community?
- How are those who seem different for any reason given support and shown they are wanted?
- How does the school position on rewards and sanctions / behaviour relate to the concept of agape?
- Do the “rules of the classroom” promote agape?
- Do pupils know we “hate the sin but love the sinner”?
- Do the verses from I Corinthians 13 (see above) help define the ethos of your school?
- How does the concept of God’s love feature in collective worship?
- Does your school’s worship draw on a variety of styles and cultures?
- What positive actions are taken to keep before the school the needs of the global community?
- How are pupils encouraged to act on behalf of others locally, nationally, internationally (e.g. charity fundraising)?
- Do we believe we have an obligation to ensure that every child has a good childhood, as a person in their own right with rights?
- Do we seek to build a world where every child has a place at its centre not on its margins?
Because agape is a great “catch all” value, the values and questions on the rest of the web pages in this section can all be traced back to agape.