This week I’m starting a blog series on the fruit of the Spirit. I’m excited about this series and I’m believing God that we continue to be FRUITFUL! So this week let’s talk about The Fruit of the Spirit – Love.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
My favorite uncle recently came to visit and we had an amazing time. Amongst the delicious grilled chicken and home baked cookies, we got into some good talks about theology. He challenges me quite a bit but this time, it was a little different. He asked if I had ever taught on the Agape Eros Paradigm Shift. Um…. the agape…. what? 😀 Yeah… I had to really think about his question. Ha! But he was talking about love. What it means to really be loved and to love.
Love is the highest form of responsibility we have because God is love. Do we really love people? This is the question. When someone betrays us at the deepest level, do we “love” them? When someone doesn’t seem lovable, do we “love” them? It’s interesting in ministry, I have had so many people tell me they love me. “I love you brother! I love you with the love of the Lord!” they say. I actually laugh on the inside. You have no idea what you are talking about. The love of the Lord means I could smack you in the face until you are unrecognizable, spit on you, takes thorns and mash them in your skull, take nine-inch nails and drive them through your wrists and ankles, hang you on a wooden cross in the center of town in your underwear, then stab you in the side… how about now? Do you love me still? Where’s the love of the Lord bro? I know it seems extreme but in reality this is what love is, this is what love does. I’m honestly no where near this at the present moment. “I want justice! I want revenge! I want the one who hurt me to hurt worse!” Of course that’s where our emotions go, of course we feel that. To live in love, to live in the Spirit, we have to overcome our own emotions and forgive and love with no recourse. I’m far from perfect, I give people a piece of my mind way too much. I’ve found if we keep giving people a piece of our mind, someday we’ll be mindless! So let’s look at love and what it means to truly love people.
4 Kinds of Love
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” -John 21:15–17
So this passage takes place after Jesus has been betrayed by Peter, crucified, and had risen from the dead. Peter had gone back to fishing but Jesus had found him on the beach and starts up this conversation in order to confront and restore him back to his calling. He asks Peter the same question three times and Peter gives the same answer three times, at least in our English language it seems like the same question and answer trio. Let’s dig into the original language here a bit and you may be able to identify.
1. Agape – This is the kind of love that God is. Agapē is not kindled by the merit or worth of it’s object, but it originates in it’s own God-given nature. God is love. It delights in giving. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. Agapē desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.
When Jesus asked Peter do you LOVE me. He asked Peter, “Do you AGAPE me?” This is what he asked. Peter’s answer was less than sufficient. I mean… he said I love you but what did he really say?
2. Phileo – This the kind of love that has strings attached. You love me and I love you because of what you can do. Phileō is a companionable love. This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. Phileō is a love that responds to kindness, appreciation, or love. It involves giving as well as receiving; but when it is greatly strained, it can collapse in a crisis. This love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.
This is what Peter said… it sounds similar and the scary thing is it is very similar. This is where we mostly operate. It’s a “give and take” type of love. This is the difference though. Agape is selfless and the rest of the types of loves we are going to discuss are selfish. It’s interesting that when Jesus asks a third time, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter just crumbles and breaks down. The third time, Jesus asked Peter do you PHILEO me? How heartbreaking. Jesus used the same language Peter used. I’m so glad God doesn’t have the same measure of love for us that we tend to have for others.
3. Storgē – This love has its basis in one’s own nature. Storgē is a natural affection or natural obligation. It is a natural movement of the soul for husband, wife, child or dog. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man that rests on something close to him and that he feels good about. This is pretty much what we mean when we say we love something. It’s not a real love but a word we use to describe a feeling.
4. Eros – Eros is a love of passion, an overmastering passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind. It is a love that is an emotional involvement based on body chemistry. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction. Though Eros is directed towards another, it actually has self in mind. Unlike Phileo, this says I love you because of what you can do for me. The foundation of this type of love is some characteristic in the other person which pleases you. If the characteristic would cease to exist, the reason for the love would be gone, the result being, “I don’t love you anymore. Eros looks for what it can receive. It’s a “take and take” type of love. If it does give, it gives in order to receive. If it fails to get what it wants or expects, bitterness or resentment could develop. This where the majority of people live.
Living in the “love of the Lord” has everyone else in mind. I don’t think any of us are here yet but it’s exactly what we need to be aiming for in this journey of life.