One of the struggles of any language is placing clarity of meaning on words. For example, how often do you use the word love? How many different ways do you use it? Just think…I love Starbucks! I love my children! I love the Rainbow Warriors! I love that new movie! I love my friends! I love poke!
This word is used so much, in such varying degrees, that we have learned the cultural understanding that clearly we love our children different than our food which is different from our friends. Love, in this way of use, is left open to the interpretation of the hearer. In the ancient Greek language, they used primarily four words to describe aspects of love. For example, they used the word, philia, to describe a friendship/brotherly love. Hence Philadelphia is the “City of Brotherly Love.” When speaking about their family—siblings, parents, cousins, etc—they used the word storge. This is a familiar love that we have for the kin in our lives. As they looked at romantic love, the word eros was used which described a passionate love. And the final word that litters our New Testament is the word agape. This is an unconditional, or perfect, love. It is, in fact, the love that God has for the creation!
At most weddings, the scripture of choice is 1 Corinthians 13—known as “The Love Chapter!” Couples love this passage as it speaks to the kind of love that they hope for in their married lives. I always share with them that this passage is not written to a couple on their wedding day but a community trying to do life together. As long as there are two people doing life together, there will be conflict and opportunities to follow the agape love of God revealed in Christ Jesus.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. What is this agape love like? It is a love that uplifts the other, allows the hurts to be healed, and looks to the best. It is the love that sees in the other, the beauty and wonder of that one, as created by God. And this love is never failing…it is never wrong to invoke it, share it and live by it! It is this love that ought to mark us as Christians. Today, as you move about your day, how might this love guide you and be shared by you?