In the New Testament, there are four words that we translate as “love.”
Here they are in all their glory:
1. Storge – means “affection” or “approval” for something. Sort of like, “I love your car,” or “I love pizza.”
2. Philos – means “friendship.” “I love you, bro. Thanks for always being here.”
3. Eros (which is where the word “erotic” comes from) – means “romance,” or “sexual love,” or “passion.” The kind of love one would show to their spouse. Meant to be shared with only one person. “I love my wife,” or “I love my husband.”
4. Agape – “other-oriented, self-sacrificial, choice-based love…agape love ascribes worth to another at cost to oneself (if necessary). It is not based on a characteristic within the person, nor is it based on feeling. It is completely a choice, unrelated to emotion or characteristics of the object/person of its direction.” You can have agape love towards someone but not have storge love, philos love, or eros love towards them. This is the kind of love, we are told in the New Testament, that God has toward humans.
This kind of agape love is the kind of love John says God is in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God doesn’t just love, God IS love. Everything about Him, His essential being, His nature is love. He can’t stop loving because He would stop being God. The nature of this self-sacrificial love is revealed to us on the cross – the centrality of Jesus’ ministry.
Paul expands on this in Ephesians 3:17-19 when he writes,
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together will all the Lord’s 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.
This agape love surpasses mere knowledge – it takes the intervention of the Holy Spirit to believe in such a thing. It is simply too beautiful, too extravagant, too good to be true to believe it. And yet, it is true! Praise be to God! This is why so many people stumble over God’s love – they try to understand it, but it’s impossible. It’s simply too wide, too long, too high, and too deep to grasp. To begin to even scratch the surface is to admit that you cannot understand it.
Although we cannot understand it, we can at least see a perfect image of it, as Jesus is this love personified – the fullness of God – and what we see Jesus do is how the Father acts as well. Jesus died and suffered for everyone on the cross. Everything else, such as the portrayals of God in the Old Testament, is a mere shadow of His true nature.
This means no matter what you have done, no matter what you are doing, and no matter what you will do; has not, is not, and will not prevent God from loving you any more or any less than He does right now. Once that starts to seep into your soul, deep transformation happens. This is why love is central to everything!
For example, Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus to be rooted and established in this love of Christ, as seen above. This is the very foundation, the very core of what they should be building their faith on. This is expanded on in Colossians chapter three:
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:14-15
Again Paul emphasizes the importance of this type of love. Not only is our faith meant to be built on it, but we are also called to clothe ourselves in it, thus replicating it! However, the only way to replicate this radical love is to first be rooted in it.
Believing this is difficult, and frankly impossible, without the help of God. If you are struggling to believe God is really as good as seen in the person of Jesus Christ, ask Him to reveal to you how beautiful He truly is. Put away all of your objections for the time being, as they can be dealt with at a later time, and simply rest in His love for you. Know that God loves you with this immense agape love – He does it because it is who He is. He may not storge things about you, in fact He may hate aspects of what you do, such as sin, but that is only because He agape loves you. Rest in His love. Let it penetrate the deepest, darkest compartments of your soul.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forevermore.
Blessings and peace,
“Love is…” sermon found on whchurch.orghttp://www.pinterest.com/pin/301319031290197451/