Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Love is love, or is it?

 In English, the term “love” is used to cover a multitude of experiences. I love my husband and children. I love to hear a violin played well.  I love my dogs. I love to walk on a lonely beach. I love writing. I love fresh fruit salad with yoghurt.  It would be ridiculous to believe that I love all these things and people in the same way, to the same degree. We do have a few other descriptions which would probably be appropriate – whilst I love my husband, I enjoy walking on the beach, I relish writing well and I appreciate a flavoursome meal.
The ancient Greek language, one of the three languages in which the Bible was originally written, (the other two being Hebrew and Aramaic) had four different terms for love, which described distinctly different love relationships. Perhaps in the light of twenty-first century western culture with its current catchcry of “love is love” we should consider again these Biblical terms:

Agape love – is the unconditional love of God. When we become Christians, this love which is from God to man, also indwells each of us by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to extend God’s love to others.
It’s God’s agape love which enables us to follow the commandment to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44).  This unique love is a powerful witness to non-Christians.

Philia love- is the deep bond of friendship. There is nothing sexual about this love. It is a joy of companionship, a feeling of trust and comfort in the relationship. 

Storge love is the love formed through family bonds e.g. the love of a parent for a child, for siblings, or through a family group that has permanently formed together, e.g. a church family.

Eros- erotic love is that which involves sexuality, the physical attraction with a desire for sexual contact with another.  Biblically, the consummation of erotic love belongs only in a husband and wife relationship.

We live in a fallen world, one which is decaying physically and morally.  The Bible tells us since the fall of mankind “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). Love is no exception. It has been reinvented, used and redefined beyond what its original Creator designed it to be.  The love of God is largely ignored or denied in our self-centred, western culture. Sexual love has been perverted into sexual lust and magnified until in many cases it becomes a monster that enslaves and ultimately destroys. The traditional family unit with its strong bonds of storge love is under attack as never before.

There is heartache in so many relationships which should be loving. There is a blurring of boundaries in some cases which produces abuse- physical, emotional and sexual.

Yet God is still in the business of redeeming mankind. Because of love, He gave His Son to this fallen world. Because of love, Jesus bore our sins on the cross. I believe that it is only when we are in right relationship with our Creator and Heavenly Father that we are able to extend His love to others and be in right relationships with other people. When we commit our lives to God, we have the opportunity to know a true love beyond all earthly compare. Here are just a few examples of how the Bible describes God’s love:

“Unfailing love” (Psalms)
“a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. ...Proverbs 18:24
“He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:16)

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:4)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

These are just a small selection of the many verses in the Bible which tell of God’s love for all mankind, and His longing to be in fellowship with each individual through the grace given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I desire to pray for each person reading this. May these verses which Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus, be just as applicable for each individual reading them here today:

“ For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

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