(Sorry this post may be a little longer than what I intend for most of my post to be but there was much to say on this topic– so bear with me )
Well we are almost a week removed from having celebrated Valentine’s Day, affectionately known as the day of Love to most people. As we consider this holiday and all that it has come to mean in modern times, it caused me to again consider what Love truly is. Of course if you randomly ask ten people walking the street what they think Love is it’s likely you’ll get ten different perspectives emanating from a number of different worldviews. But many will likely be tied to either the Eros or Philos form of love. So what are Eros and Philo? Eros and Philos are three of the four different Greek versions of the word Love used in the Bible. Eros is typically associated with a more sensual form of love. It is most often connected to a person having a strong physical and/or emotional attraction to another person that makes the person feel “happy.” This love is therefore desolately conditional because if the person who was initially attracted to another ceases to be made to feel “happy” with the once-object- of -their -affection, they feel they have “fallen out of love” with that person and suddenly the love that once was, is no more. A second type of love which is perhaps not as fickle as Eros but is still conditional is Philos. This word, though it can be related to a love between two people in a romantic relationship, is most often associated with friendship and family. This is a brotherly (and/or sisterly for the politically correct :-)) love between friends, neighbors, family, etc. This love is regarded to be a bit more virtuous than Eros, going beyond just merely the external and superficial. Yet it is still inhibited in that it, too, has a conditional element to it. The conditional element is one of give-and-take. It is a love that says, “as long as they are giving to me and holding up their end of the deal, then I will give back in return and hold up mine.” But what happens when the other person doesn’t hold up their end of the deal? What if they start dropping the ball? What if they miss the mark? What if they fail to meet your expectations? Then what? Well most often Philos would say, “well since they are no longer doing their part, I will no longer do mine.”
Pretty sad, huh? If we are honest, looking at these two types of love at face value can be quite depressing. They can really make us question if there really is such a thing as “true love.” A love that gives and needs no return. A love that is steadfast through the good and the bad. A love that never quits. Never fails. Never runs away. Stays the course no matter what. Good and bad weather. Sad and happy times. Whether you hold up or even exceed your end of the bargain, or whether you fail, drop the ball, mess up or fumble in the worst way.
But wait……what’s that I see?…do you see it?….I know what it is. It’s a light. More specifically, it’s the light of hope. It’s hope saying, wait a minute, don’t forget about this one…..which one? This one. Agape. What is Agape? Well some have said Agape is the greatest love of all. Let’s explore Agape.
Agape is an unconditional love. It is that love that gives and needs no return. It is the love that is steadfast through the good and bad. Through the happy and sad. Through ups and downs. This love gives to others when others have nothing to give back. This love keeps no record of wrongs, and in fact loves even after it’s been wronged. But how can we know this love? What does this love look like expressed? Well there was one paramount way this love was expressed that has since swung the door wide open for this type of love to now be experienced, perpetuated and spread throughout the ends of the earth. I’m referring to the single most self-less act of love known to man. And it is the act of God Almighty in the form of His Son Jesus leaving His place in Heaven, breaking in to space and time here on earth, living in relative obscurity for several years until the fullness of time comes, and He begins a three year journey of ministry that climaxes at a Cross on Mount Calvary. And why did He do it? Did He do it because He had to? Because He owed something to man? No. In fact He did it at a time when not only did man not have anything to offer, but when man was in his most helpless and unappealing state. We were lost. Depraved. Guilty. Fallen. Spiritually dead. And yet in one stroke of Agape, the God-Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, offered up Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of fallen humanity…and get this….while we were STILL sinners! What a demonstration! What a gift! What an act of Agape! That He who knew no sin became sin so that those whom He loved could become the righteousness of God through Him. This, my friends, is the epitome of Agape.
And so as we settle from celebrating our modern day of Love, let those who believe treasure this truth in our hearts and make it our aim to love others as we have been loved….and for those who may not yet believe, I pray that you might consider accepting and embracing this love that is also offered for you today. And guess what….no pre-conditions. No stipulations. No standard to meet first. No this-for-that. Just come. Just as you are today. Come. Believe. And receive…. the Greatest LOVE of ALL.
Other Great passages on Agape Love for inquiring minds: