Romans 5:8 (NIV)
Love... In our English language we use one word to describe love. It can get pretty confusing. We say we “love” a hotdog and we “love” our spouse. In some cases, it might mean the same thing. We love our new car and we love our children. The New Testament was written in Greek. Ancient Greek had four distinct words to describe love.
Storge: Relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child or patriotic affection.
Eros: Describes passionate, romantic physical love. It is the root word for the English word “erotic.” It is nowhere found in the New Testament.
Phileo: Refers to companionship and friendship. It is a mutual or reciprocal love. The name Philadelphia literally means “the city of brotherly love.”
Agape: Is unconditional love. A self-giving, self-sacrificial love of others. It gives never expecting anything in return. It is what I call “the nevertheless” kind of love God has for us. It conveys the idea of limitless compassion and care, boundless beyond measure. Love that gives for the sake of giving, asking nothing in return. Though we be sinners of the worst kind, nevertheless God loves us.
Each of these types of love is appropriate in the Christian life. However, Jesus went to the cross out of an agape sense of love for us. Bearing Christ’s cross means that we do the same for others. In a culture of narcissistic self-gratification and disposable relationships, Christ reminds us of love’s true nature.
Love is not love until it costs something. True love costs a lot. Real love demands costly action. More than a “sentimental journey,” Christian love is an active, selfless, and sacrificial willingness to seek out the best for others. Jesus taught his disciples that true love means the willingness to “lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Godly agape is not ultimately based upon feeling but willing. Deep love is not an emotion of the heart but a discipline of the soul. Warm, fuzzy feelings will only carry us so far. Christian love is much deeper and sterner stuff. We love because God first loved us. With such confidence, we can risk loving others.
How great is your love for us. May we come to love as you do. In Christ’s name. Amen.
In His Word,
Reverend Dee Dee