Love Is In The Air
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”1 John 4:8
Valentines day was on Monday which means depending on the schedules off those who celebrate it, this week is ‘love week’. For some of you reading this, you’re one sentence in and you’re already rolling your eyes, and I totally get it. Valentines is one of the most commercialised days of the year, created so the likes of Hallmark can make as much money as possible. And though I am a bit of a romantic at heart, Valentines isn’t one of the things I really subscribe to, though I do love a good card and if Dee (my husband) wants to get me flowers, I’m not going to say no… But I’ve also had years of celebrating it with my girlfriends with ‘Galentines’ or not bothering all together. Regardless, love is not just for Valentines Day (or week) but always. Yes, that might be rich coming from a woman who is married, but love doesn’t just mean the romantic kind, even if Hallmark would like that to be the case, there are four different types of love according to the Bible (in Greek), each to be celebrated in their own right. This was something my Dee & I got to learn about during the Sermon on our wedding day and it was really great to hear about each and how they all lead to us following the commandment of loving one another.
“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days.”Ecclesiastes 9:9
Eros is the Greek word for romantic love i.e. the love that Valentines is based on. It is the love based on physical attraction and the physical act of love. The Bible is clear that this kind of love should be reserved for marriage, but we all know in this day and age, that isn’t always the case. Regardless of whether you’re in a marriage, committed relationship or something a bit more fleeting, if Eros is the foundation of that relationship, it will be based on very shaky ground. There need to be other aspects of your relationship to help ground it in more substance. So let’s look at the other types of love that are referred to in the Bible.
“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”Exodux 20:12 NIV
This Greek word describes family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters. Though we have Mothers and Fathers Day for those female and male role models in our lives, Storge love isn’t just parental or sibling love, but the love you have for both your blood relatives and chosen relatives; cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even those who feel like family even though you’re not technically related. To be surrounded by family, who support you and are your biggest cheerleaders is really everything. Those of us lucky enough to have Storge love, no matter how big or small your circle is, it is something we should feel really blessed to have.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”John 13:35, NIV
This is the type of love in the Bible that most Christians practice toward each other. This one describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships.
Philia originates from the Greek term phílos, a noun meaning “beloved, dear … a friend; someone dearly loved (prized) in a personal, intimate way; a trusted confidant held dear in a close bond of personal affection.” Philia expresses experience-based love; those who love Christ the way we do, who love others the way we do, and those who we can truly keep accountable on the journey of discipleship and vice versa.
Philia is the most general type of love in Scripture, encompassing love for fellow humans, care, respect, and compassion for people in need. Jesus said philia would be an identifier of his followers.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16 ESV
This is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This term defines God’s immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. It is the divine love that comes from God. Agape love is perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure. If you are someone who has read all the other types of love and thought none of these relate to you, Agape is THE one that you can rely on wholeheartedly; it isn’t prone to human error, nor does it wax and wane and he will never disappoint. As I said in the Love blog over Advent, the God of the Bible doesn’t just express love; he is love.
So if you get to Valentines week and it’s not as you would like or you’re not with who you would like to be with, seek solace in the knowledge that regardless of the day, time, who you are or who you’re with, you are loved. Always.