What is love?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides us with a few definitions. Note that this definition is for love as a noun:
“a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
“(2): attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers
“(3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
“b: an assurance of affection”Merriam-Webster Dictionary
This is the modern definition of love. You find it all over the place. Romantic movies, novels, and even some psychologists affirm that love is that warm, fuzzy feeling in the chest which comes along with intense desires.
But what if I told you that there is a different definition of love?
What if I told you that there was a type of love that wasn’t bound by circumstances, suffering, and pain?
In Greek, there are four words for love. These words are eros, storge, philia, and agape. Each word signifies a different type of love. Most of you have loved someone with the first three types of love.
Eros is romantic love. This is the warm, fuzzy feeling that couples get when they meet each other. We believe that God (the Judaeo-Christian God) has reserved this love for marriage. It is not to be acted upon outside of marriage. While we cannot always control our feelings about other people, Christians must refuse to succumb to lust.
Storge is familial love. This is the love that a mother will feel for her child and the love that a brother would feel toward his sister.
Philia is one that few people experience strongly due to modern-day culture. This is the love that exists between intricate, nurtured relationships. This is also the type of general love that we feel for other humans. We care about others but don’t know them well.
None of these types of love are perfect.
Enter agape love.
Consider the following quote. Depending on your religious background, it might make you uncomfortable or think of rebuttals to the statement at the beginning. Don’t leave yet.
“God made the world for the delight of human beings—if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we’ve waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us—you just can’t resist Him. I believe there’s no such thing as luck in life, it’s God’s love, it’s His.”Unknown
Either you’re a Christian and shouting “Amen,” an atheist and facepalming, or someone of a different religion and scratching your chin. It might help to ponder why this person (I was unable to find who originally said it) would say this in the first place.
God loves us with agape love. This is love that never leaves you when you make mistakes. This is love that is concerned for your well being. This is love that The Lord loves you infinitely even though you never earned any of His love.
A God who loves you infinitely while getting no infinite love in return is something to swallow.
God is offering so much to His creatures. He is offering so much to you. What are you giving Him in return?
From some of His creation, He is receiving nothing. Many people in America don’t believe a God exists.
From other members of His creation, He receives hatred and slander.
Imagine being whipped until there was so much blood and torn flesh that no one could recognize you, being stripped (possibly naked) and nailed to a rough cross. Now the entirety of Jerusalem is laughing at Jesus while He knows that He could free Himself. He could even get revenge on them… not that He would do that. He stayed on that cross for three hours, all out of His own will.
Because He was fully human and fully God at the same time, Jesus also experienced the same humiliation, embarrassment, and shame at being bodily exposed in front of hundreds of laughing people. God seems to be getting hurt more than receiving benefits for Himself.
Look at how much God is risking for us. He’s offering us His love. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for you. He did not have to die the way He did to forgive us. He could had said that He forgave us and never descended to earth.
It’s easy to do something for humanity as a whole.
Yet Jesus did not die for humanity as a whole.
He died for each one of us.
God wants us to love everyone as He does, but we can’t do that without Him. We must surrender fully to God, which is difficult for many because it is hard to admit we are not and never were designed to be Supreme Beings. We are totally helpless.
I will write an article about total surrender to God and another about loving others as ourselves in the future.
Finally, here is a poem for you to consider as you ponder the contents of this article. This poem is free to share without giving credit.
What kind of love would move a Supreme Being to descend from Heaven,
to become fully human and fully God,
to experience the hunger and thirst of mere mortals;
and to allow Himself to be rocked to sleep by His own creature—
What love would move Divine Majesty to die for creatures He does not need?
It’s easy to do something for humanity as a whole,
but that is not the logic of God.
It is not enough for Him to clump together His creation,
or forgive His creatures of eternal condemnation;
rather, He died for each one
and He died for you
because of His love.
It was His agape love that pushed Him through the betrayal,
pushed Him through Jerusalem,
lifted Him after falling from the weight
and it was the love that sent Him to the grave.
It was He who rose again.
Not that His body had to live;
for His body did not have to exist for Him to live.
But He longed to conquer death for you
and is waiting for you to grasp His hand
in the raging waves, the storm, the crashing,
both loving with agape love
for all eternity.
Hetzel, Whitney. “Love Is a Decision, Not Just a Feeling.” Catholic Company, 12 Feb. 2021, catholiccompany.com/magazine/love-is-a-decision-not-a-feeling/. Accessed 1 July 2022.
Zavada, Jack. “4 Types of Love in the Bible.” Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/types-of-love-in-the-bible-700177. Accessed 1 July 2022.
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