Aug 17 Called to Love

He loves me, he loves me not… petals fall to the ground as a hopeful young girl wishfully plucks the colorful delicate flower into a confirmation of his love for her.

We have been taught so many definitions of love up to this moment of our lives. We have grasped some very intentional definitions of the word and then culture along with life experiences have added to our ever-growing associations with the word LOVE.

Here are some familiar examples you will recognize…

  • I love shopping.
  • I love coffee.
  • I love my dog.
  • I love sunny days.
  • I love the mountains.
  • I love your smile.
  • I love to hike.
  • I love my church.
  • I love my friends.
  • I love my parents.
  • I love my husband.
  • I love my kids.
  • I love God.
  • I love you.
  • And to quote one my favorites… “I love lamp” –Ron Burgundy

You get the picture. The word love comes in many forms from casual commenting, blissful enjoyment, people we like, deep rooted relationships, long-lasting commitments, and everything in between. I can see why it can be hard to navigate responding to God’s call to love others and to love him.  Our definition of the word is ALL OVER THE PLACE.

So how do you define love? Personally? How loosely do you use the term, or are you a person that only says it when you have contemplated it and mean it at your core?

I grew up in a family that ended every phone call with “I love you”. I heard those words often. But I know tons of people who rarely, if ever, heard “I love you” when they were younger. So how do these parts of our lives help mold and shape what love means?

In a culture where people “fall in love”, get married, and then “fall out of love” with a divorce rate in America that shows 50% of all marriages ending in divorce how do we define love?

As always, the best way to define anything in this world is by going to the Word of God. John 8:31-32 reminds us “If you abide in my WORD, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Together let’s take a little dive into how God defines love. We find two primary types of love in scripture, Agape and Phileo.

AGAPE – Gods Love. The love of God for men and women. It is unshakable, unchanging and nothing can separate us from it.

  • So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  1 John 4:16
    • *The word love used here is “agape” in the Greek.
    • Unconditional
    • Unchanging
    • A Decision and Commitment
    • Not Based on Feelings or Emotions

PHILEO – Relational Love. The love we have for others that is based on feelings, emotions, thoughts and expectations.

  • When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”  John 21:15-17
    • *Jesus asks Peter the same question 3 times. The first two forms of love he asks Peter about is “agape”, the last and final time Jesus asks Peter he uses the word “phileo,” Showing us that both are important.
    • Conditional
    • Shakable
    • Based on Feeling or Emotions
    • Will Not Sustain A Relationship of Any Kind Long Term

God gives us a picture here of two very real types of love… one that is eternally unconditional and one that speaks of our feelings. Both are valid, created by God, and both are needed in order to love God and others the way we were created to.

Imagine with me what it looks like when both of these types of love are present, TOGETHER when loving.

We see Gods fully intended expression of love.

It has the safety and security of never changing or failing, of being fully seen, known, and accepted. Along with heart churning emotions of delight with deep feelings of affection. These two types of love combined are how we are wired to walk out relationships with God and others.

Some beautiful examples of these 2 types of love merged together can be a parent’s love for their child, a husband or wife’s love for their spouse, a long time best friend, and the list goes on…  Unfortunately, not all of these types of relationships are always defined by every person in this way.  PHILEO love comes and goes bringing with it grief, wounds, bitterness, and emptiness. And that is where the brokenness of this world sets in and wreaks havoc on us.

My challenge for us is to go against the norm of living out of only PHILEO love for God and others. In John 15:12 Jesus tells us “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” He uses the AGAPE form of love twice in the scripture to instruct us to love others the way God loves us {Unconditional, unshaken, commitment to love not based on feelings or emotions}.

Let’s choose to follow God’s example and embrace walking in both AGAPE and PHILEO love no matter that cost, no matter the person, no matter our preferences, no matter our comfort, no matter what. WHY? Because it is the way God loves us and calls us to love.

Carrie Williams

Founder & CEO, The Truth Republic

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