From the Pulpit: Understanding meaning of love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2007

&8220;So now I&8217;m giving a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.&8221;

John 13:34-35

If you think about it, the English word &8220;love&8221; is broadly used, so much so that we can hardly for a day without using it in a variety of contexts. For example: &8220;I sure do LOVE ice cream.&8221; &8220;I LOVE the fact that you were thinking of me and picked up the phone to call.&8221; &8220;I really LOVE my work- its so rewarding.&8221;

There are so many different definitions and uses for the word that it&8217;s easy to often lose original meaning or to misunderstand interpretation. So much so that, perhaps, it would be helpful for us to stop and consider (and be reminded!) it&8217;s various &8220;types.&8221;

For example: EROS LOVE – This is the kind of love we feel for others that covers everything from queasy stomachs and warm fuzzy feelings to strong passion.

In order for Eros to exist its dependent upon the situation and circumstances. As long as a couple is enjoying a romantic situation, Eros can thrive. But, as soon as hurtful words or actions appear, Eros simply evaporates.

PHILIA LOVE – This kind of love is the love of friendship, best friends, and the fellowship of being with those you enjoy. Though this form of love is wonderful, like Eros it s not always dependable and cane wane according to the situation or experience.

Finally, AGAPE LOVE – Unlike the previous two types of love, Agape is not limited to being held hostage by its environment and someone&8217;s perception. It&8217;s consistently present, always selfless, and expresses care for the well being of others. It&8217;s not based upon situation or circumstance or relationship, but rather, upon the true care and concern of another.

Well, sorry for the word &8220;history&8221; but as we enter into this season of Love – with its earthly images of cupids and hearts and valentines, the challenge before us, as People of Faith, is to remember the truest and most pure expressions of love … God&8217;s! And God&8217;s love for us, Agape, is expressed in the fact that through his son Jesus Christ, God comes into our hearts and lives in order to not only share this type of love with all of us, but also to serve as an example of how it is that we&8217;re to love one another.

True Agape – caring for others, loving other is in the way that God first loved us- is our calling, as we reach out, lift up, and truly care for the people around us. Experiencing God&8217;s love by bringing to life and sharing God&8217;s love.

Bryan Simmons is pastor at Morningstar United Methodist Church in Chelsea