LOVE…….. It’s one of the most popular and widely used words in our culture. We love everything from food to cars to sports teams to movies, songs, baby animals, hairstyles, athletic shoes, holiday destinations, tech toys and on and on. You name it; we love it.
Our everyday language is filled with love phrases such as, “love ya,” “I love it to bits,” “ya gotta love it,” “I just love…” When it comes to our attraction to each other, there’s “first love,” “puppy love,” “lovestruck,” “true love,” “blind love,” “love at first sight,” and “falling in love.” When things aren’t going so well there’s “no love lost between us,” “unrequited love,” “love and lose,” “love them and leave them,” and “tough love.” For the truly determined and optimistic there’s always “sacrificial love,” “a labor of love” and “love conquers all.”
Love wears many faces in our culture. We seem to be constantly “in love” with something or someone. In fact we use the word “love” so frequently that we have to wonder if we aren’t in danger of losing its significance altogether. Surely we don’t mean that we love our spouse, children or romantic partner in the same way that we love pizza!
We only have one word for “love,” but in Greek there are four words for love. Storge is love of the familiar and comfortable and is often applied to family members. It’s the kind of love we mean when we describe our favorite ice cream flavor or vacation spot. Eros is romantic or sexual love, and we know it as erotic love. Philia is the steady love of friendship. All these words represent types of love that we are all familiar with and engage in all the time.
But the fourth Greek word for love, “agape,” is generally reserved for God alone. This is a changeless love that is self-giving without expecting anything in return. It is a love that is freely chosen and given even to the unlovable. It has little to do with emotion and much to do with giving and self-sacrifice. It seeks to serve the other person and promote their good and well-being.
Romans 5:8 describes God’s agape love for us: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When we cared nothing about God and had no love for Him, He loved us so much that He gave His own Son to die for us to show us His love. This is giving and self-sacrifice beyond comparison.
Jesus constantly showed and taught His disciples agape love. He told His disciples, “Whoever wants to be first among you must be the servant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” His final command to the disciples was to love each other even as He had loved them.
The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 2:2–4: “Have the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Jesus calls us beyond the many faces of love we know, to learn the freedom and true joy that is found only in the face of agape love.
Please join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. We are beginning a new series, “What Does Love Look Like?” My sermon this week is “Through Love, Serve One Another.”