I love God. I love my wife. I love pizza. In the English language these statements all seem to be equal as the same word, “love” is used in all of them – but rest assured, I do not love those things the same amount.
The theme for the fourth week of advent is “Love” but in the Greek language there were 4 different words for love and 2 of them were used in the New Testament. The two words not used in the New Testament were Eros which meant romantic love and Storge which indicated familial (family) love describing the bond which develops quite naturally between parents and children. The two which were used in the New Testament were Philia and Agape. Philia (the verb is phileo) indicated brotherly love or friendship which was seen as reciprocal love as the bond between people was often symmetrical. Philia was the word Jesus used when in John 13 he said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Agape was used to describe self-sacrificing love and unconditional love. It was also known as divine love as it describes the love that God has for us, His people. Agape love is more than a feeling or sentiment and extends beyond emotions. It is active and is demonstrated through actions- like Christ’s death on a cross so that we can be made right with God. Agape is used in John 3:16 when it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Agape is also used when Jesus gave the Greatest Commandment – to love (agape) God with heart, soul and mind, and love (agape) others as yourself.
In the weeks ahead with the upcoming holidays and all the events those will bring – it is good to find ways to celebrate Eros, Storge, and Philia love. And yet let us also take time to reflect on the amazing, immeasurable Agape love of our Heavenly Father who asks us to put our heart, soul, and mind into loving Him and others. And let us not forget that love is a verb – it is a doing word, so we need to live it out not merely profess it.