Friday, November 21, 2008

What is Love?

The following is an excerpt from recent journaling. If you have any thoughts, please share them. I want to become more like Christ, so I must at least endeavor to understand His prominent characteristics.

In Greek, there are four different words for love- "eros" (passionate/ romantic love), "storge" (familial love), "phileo" (brotherly love that often presents in the form of community), and "agape" (unconditional love). However, in the English language, the only word for love is... well, love. Of course, we attach all sorts of adjectives to it to delineate different types, but maybe having one word as a catch-all term is confusing us.

If you asked 100 people what "love" means, I would predict you would get at least 25 different answers. What would you say?

Although "feeling" love is really a very small part of the entirety of love, I believe we have gotten to a point in which people only associate love with feeling. If they don't have butterflies in their stomachs every time they think of their significant other, it is time to end the relationship. Maybe someone decided to term all forms of "warm fuzziness" love; no wonder it can be confusing.

Maybe the thread that ties all of these forms of love together is choice. I can choose to love and care about someone even when I don't like them. Maybe the Hebrew language gives us a hint; "ahava" has a root word "give." Not in terms of words, gifts, or service (necessarily), but rather of oneself in a sacrificial manner. We choose to care for them in spite of how they hurt us, even if they have mistreated us to the point we can't be around them anymore. We want the best for them.

Easy enough, right? Right.

Our greatest example of love is love personified in Jesus Christ. But His love doesn't fit into a little neat category. How do we emulate it if we can't comprehend it? His love included fellowship, emotion, sacrifice, discipline, accountability...we have descriptions of His love, but studying only them seems akin to getting to know a person through his or her friends.

I want to dig in, to analyze this (go figure), to understand it.

But I am looking at it the wrong way.

If God is Love, this explains my soul-burdening desire to know God's heart.


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