13 November, 2017
"Your Words Are Nothing But B.S.!"
Today I had someone try to take me to task because they heard me say to someone that I barely know that I love them and that I’ll be praying for them. This person told me that my words were BS and that you cannot “love” someone whom you just met. I’m not going to go further into that dialogue we had for this writing. I only share this to introduce my topic. I’d dare say that there are many in the church who really don’t understand this either, so I want to address this briefly. I am not going to go into a deep teaching, but simply highlight how it is that I (we) as a Christian can say and mean that we love someone who we just met or someone who seems unlovable by the world’s standard.
First, let me say that there are 4 types of love in the Bible. (Psychology today says that there are 7 types, but I’m not going to go there today because that is not the purpose of this writing.) The four Biblical types of love are:
1) eros, which is a sensual or romantic love
2) storge, which is a family love, the bond between parent and children or siblings
3) philia, which is brotherly love and is the love that most Christians practice or express toward one another. It is a powerful emotional bond that is seen in deep friendships and encompasses love for fellow humans, care, respect and compassion for people in need.
4) Agape, which is the highest form of love. It is the type of love that is expressed in God’s immeasurable love for mankind. This is the love that took Jesus to the cross. And this is the love that I was referencing when I told this person that I loved them.
Agape love is different than the other types of love in that Agape love first exists, and then it affects the emotions. Let me illustrate it this way… John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world that He sat in heaven and had warm feelings?” That just seems silly, doesn’t it? We know that John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” And that is the point of Agape love. Agape love is a volitional commitment to love. It’s a choice that we make of our own free will… something we CHOOSE to do. Agape love is a thought out choice to love… to give. Agape motivates us to act toward a person with love. We may not know them, but we show and express love toward them as a choice. It is unconditional, which means we expect nothing in return. Agape love is the giving that we choose to offer to others because Christ first gave to us. This is considered strange or weird in the world we live in, because it is completely contrary to the way of the world. People cannot relate to someone giving without expecting something in return. I’ve seen this frequently when I’ve met new people, shown them Agape love and when they tell family and friends they warn them to watch out because, according to them, I have to be after something! It’s simply the mentality of the culture we live in today. We hear it all the time, “Nothing is free! There has to be strings attached.” Not even all Christians operate in Agape love. If there is not something given in return, whether it be emotional, physical or whatever, many Christians become hurt and offended. They do a good deed, and they mean it to be an act of love… but if there is no show of gratitude, or if they are not given recognition for it, they become hurt, offended and bitter. Again… Agape love is not like that. It is not attached to the emotions and therefore does not expect anything in return.
Agape love is the type love that the Father wants and expects to be in operation in the Kingdom of God. In the world, we become acquainted with other people first, then we move into relationship and perhaps love. In God’s Kingdom we first love, THEN we move into acquaintance. Because most operate from the world’s standard, most people have a boatload of acquaintances and a few, if any real friends… and they are suffocating because there is a lack of love. This Agape love is a commitment to give and operates independently of what we feel or do not feel. As an example: Agape love is what motivates us to get out when it’s windy and cold and we physically don’t feel like it and stand on the street offering to “give” our prayers to the city and the people passing by.