Recently I was reminded of the three kinds of love. It was a small article in a Christian publication, but it took me back to my childhood listening to my father’s sermons each time he addressed the differences between eros, phileo and agape love.
Eros is the easiest of the loves to digest. It’s the biological attraction of humans one to another. It excites but its fire dies out at some point.
Phileo is the beautiful bond more mature people have. It outlives eros, yet it has its limits. Its shoreline ends when others won’t behave. It’s bound by duty and duty will be its gospel.
Then agape overarches all. It teaches of eternal love. While it cannot cure each practical detail of any human being where material things are missing, it can fill a soul so intensely for the moment that the recipient is changed forever.
But fights break out. Could it be there is a root of men’s ideas of love intertwined in each fracas?
So how does agape look in the body of Christ and then to the world? While I am not expert, I have been a recipient of agape and know its feel and texture while seeking to better implement it in my life. Maybe a few questions can help us determine where agape can be stretched over the canvas of God’s people, and eventually humanity, a little better.
Can we give up a little more of our own choices, privileges, time with our own circles and professional image so that someone can know the love of Christ?
Agape does more for a soul than flattery or money ever could. It also completes what emotions and intellect cannot.
God’s view of love and his expression through his people should be impartial, for it is that which attracts people to Christ.*
When Christ comes into every fiber of our being, he changes us. But he must live throughout the week hinged by our corporate encounter with God as often as we meet.
Our assembly gathers for God, because of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t seek to come to church to get socially what I cannot throughout the week on my own, though I enjoy social encounters as they naturally unfold. I come to church in order become one with others seeking Christ’s face.
Could we do better at not making church a social stop with other good Christian citizens? Might our Sunday encounters seek better to practice giving Christ to someone new, a visitor or another estranged sibling in Christ who needs love, forgiveness, an ear or even a bit of laughter?
I believe Jesus would.
His perfect love was available to anyone.
He was always inclusive of anyone who wanted to overhear his teachings and sit in his circles. It seems his aim was to draw people to him, not to build a clique.
That being said, it is only possible to have a certain amount of close friends, but isn’t that what the rest of the week is for? To catch up here and there by phone, email or social media?
I think of the stranger at church being someone’s relative as I once was in other congregations when I didn’t have my family surrounding me. Other Christian siblings reached out to me, so I now have opportunity to reach out in that same spirit of love.
Am I seeking others out on Sundays – and for that matter, throughout the week – in addition to my friends, as Jesus would with the love he has given me?
*James 2 / Also to ponder: Romans 2:11, Proverbs 24:23, Deuteronomy 1:17