Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What is love?

What is love?  When I had my interview with the pastor of my parish to come into the church we got to talking about love.  I remember saying it was a shame that the English language only has one word for love.  I can love chocolate and love God, and there is no distinction.  As I said that though, there is an understanding that I have that there is really only one love, one REAL love.  I do not love chocolate, as much as I admire the flavor. I cannot “love” things, not really.  I can have a fondness for them, enjoy having them in my life, own them, partake in them, but I cannot love them as they are things.  Well, I suppose I could love (in the sense of great desire) them, but there are many warnings in our sacred scripture about placing things over people and over the Almighty. 

There were four Greek words that meant love of one kind or another.  Eros, probably named after the god of the same name, which is sexual love.  Storg, which is familial love.  Phileo, which is more in tune with our modern English word love since it has more to do with feelings than it does action or thought.  Kind of like spontaneous crushes, or like I said earlier, chocolate, but it always also receives something if it’s going to give.  Then there is the big word.  Agape, which is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest form of love, and I would argue the only real form of love that exists as Agape is (should be) the foundation from which all other love and desire springs so it will be right love in actions, thoughts, and deeds. 

If we are in agape, then we aren’t using people (eros) for our selfish pleasure and when we “feel” it isn’t convenient for us throwing them away.  We are wholly dedicated to the other in agape, by first doing what is Godly (for ourselves and them), and then by giving without reserve or expectation. Which means no matter how much eros desire we have for them, we are always doing the next right thing for them.  It’s the same if the relationship is storg. By this understanding, phileo would be relegated to that wonderful ‘love’ of chocolate and what not, and have no place in human to human relationships. 

In other words, love, real agape, is agape love, which cannot be compartmentalized, detached from, quantified, limited, or lost.  Agape is God’s kind of love, in the pale way we humans can express and experience.  I write a lot about love, and some people perceive that it’s some vanilla marshmallow hippy abstract human idea I talk about.  It’s not, and if we explore some of the scripture where agape is used we begin to see what we are truly called to do.  It’s frightening, honestly it is, because it’s the abandonment of the ego and the self-centered nature, it is always sacrifice. 

John 15: 13

13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 13: 10

10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

John 15:9-10

9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

14 Let all that you do be done in love.  

1 Peter 4: 8

8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

And to my mind the greatest of these:

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is what we are all called to.  We are given the command (not suggestion) to love each other as He loved us, as God loves us.  What keeps us from that? Fear, and fear does not come from God fear comes from darkness.  We cannot be saints in training, if we allow fear to compartmentalize love, because fear has walls, and love is boundless.  This is not some hippy-dippy concept but the most radical, truly anti-establishment, extreme act of God we can live within.  It’s not emotional band standing, it’s an active choice and action.  When we actually get this, and we begin to live with this in our minds as well as our hearts, then we truly find the narrow path.  

Just some food for thought and prayer….

Heavenly Father, place within me a heart of agape love, let it burn all fear away so I may be transformed into Your love in this world.  In Jesus name, AMEN!

Here I am, Lord, send me!

Lisa Brandel

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