Love… What does it mean?
We use the term to describe our feelings for everything from cupcakes and kittens to our spouses and children.
Right now I’m loving a bag of Cheetos (gross, I know) and my headphones that are blocking out the sounds of my Saturday-morning household so I can maybe finish a blog post. I love the sunshine streaming through my window. In this sense, what I’m really doing is enjoying. They’re just things.
The English language lacks words for different types of love. And we’ve bastardized the word… using it for things like Cheetos, in a society that divorced the concept from sex.
It helps to look at the Greek. It’s been awhile, but here goes…
The prominent love of the New Testament is agape. Agape is unconditional. Self-sacrificial. It’s the love that can love enemies.
It’s stronger stuff than phileo, which is affectionate and friendly. It wishes you well, but may not go out of its way to ensure your wellness. Quaker William Penn used the root in naming Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, a place he hoped people of differing beliefs could live side-by-side, in freedom and peace. Phileo is great, but if it’s not undergirded with agape, it lacks staying power. Unlike agape, phileo has an expectation of reciprocity.
Eros, romantic or sexual love, can’t keep a relationship whole on it own, either.
Agape is the only love that loves and expresses itself regardless of the response of its object. To clarify, just in case: LOVE, a healthy thing, not stalkerish obsession.
What Does God’s Love Look Like?
Agape is the love God has for us, clearly expressed in Jesus Christ.
We’re… not so great at it. It’s risky. It costs. It often gets very little in return, at least from other people.
Our pastor recently issued, and reissued because we’re forgetful, a sort of challenge.
Are you ready to look straight at God’s love for us – for YOU?
Okay, you’re going to need a few things to get started…
A Bible. Something to write with. Highlighters if you’d like. Paper to write on, or, better, a notebook to write in.
Are you ready? Start in John 3. We’ll also read 1, 2, and 3 John, and 1 Corinthians 13.
Don’t just read, write down each time love appears… What do we learn from each verse about what love is?
After you’ve read, and written, and pondered…
You’re going to need one more thing. After you’ve looked at what love is, watch a depiction of how it was expressed in the film The Passion of the Christ. What does God’s love look like?
Its ultimate expression wasn’t easy.
I’d love to hear what you learn about God’s love for you. Come back and comment below!
Thank you, Pastor Jonathan White for the challenge!
Looking for a devotional Scripture reading and writing plan? Check out Listen When He Speaks!