If you’re anything like me the idea of love is enticing & the reality of the experience or lack thereof – is superficial & painful. It is a double edge sword – we spend all kinds of resources trying to acquired, find, experience this illusive phenomena. The messages in our culture tend to be superficial & sentimental at best – lacking in reality – and destructively cruel at worst. We talk up love as if it is the end all be all. We throw our hands up, get hurt & angry when we feel left out of the experience of Love.
Storge – is used to describe a parental love; Xenia – a love of the stranger that results in hospitality; Philia – a love that encompasses loyalty, virtue, equality, and familiarity – the love of friends, family & community – it is the love in which one finds safety & security;
Eros – romantic, passionate, longing love – literal meaning “in love” -the love of beauty internal and external – the love which draws souls together seeking truth and beauty – a spiritual and bodily love (the root word of erotic) This is the feeling or "emotion" of love.
Agape – an ideal or Divine love – unconditional love - Love of the soul – it is the verb “to love” Truth be told even for the ancient Greeks these terms cannot be so clearly segregated, and often one finds them blended. The glue that binds them is Agape.
Agape Love is the love I know best – it is a Godly love. The word itself is a VERB - a word of actions not feelings. It is a love that not only includes us – as human – but all of creation/cosmos. It is something that can only be revealed rather than defined. Love happens in the way we treat each other & the world/creation. If one looks closely at the way scripture refers to love, even in the poor English translations it is our actions we are called to when referring to love. God's love is about the actions toward us, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. . ."(Jn 3:16) The hardest part is that it is an action from the heart – it is not based in knowledge or logic - it is without selfish motive, it does not expect to be reciprocated, it does not require payment - it does not act for getting ourselves in good with God, or getting our asses out of the fire. It is something we do, just because - we want to make the other happy, to give pleasure, to give a free gift, to lighten the load, to ease the suffering - even to give of ourselves for another knowing that the most likely response will be oblivious, even the rejection of what is offered, or outright violence because of what is offered. It’s best defined in St. Paul’s, often quoted – rarely understood, first letter to the Corinthians, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (13:4-8a.) This is the love by which “IAM” created us, touched my soul, changed my life and called me to live out of. This is the love that calls me – us - to our better selves. A Love – in which nothing is required, yet provokes change – it compels a response in kind. The gift of the Spirit is when love is recognized & expressed even through our brokenness.