How Important Is Love in Christianity? (Y1.T1.D9)
Updated: Feb 24
Pexels, "Andreas Wohlfahrft"
Love is more than a theme or ideal in the biblical canon; it is the very nature of God himself.
But what kind of love are we talking about?
Let’s consider the various ancient Greek words that describe love. The list below is from an article in The Greek City Times on Valentine's Day 2020:
Eros is romantic, passionate love … lust and pleasure.
Philia is affectionate love … without physical attraction.
Agape is selfless, universal love … unconditional.
Storge is familial love … experienced between family members.
Mania is obsessive love … codependency, extreme jealousy.
Ludus is playful love … having a crush and acting on it.
Pragma is enduring love … built on commitment.
Philautia is self-love … caring for ourselves.
I’ve probably felt each of those levels of love at one time or another in my life. But, if I could choose one word on the list for the kind of love I want most, it would be agape. There's nothing better than being completely and unconditionally accepted and understood.
The New World Encyclopedia, says that in the New Testament, "the word agape or its verb form agapao appears more than 200 times." So the good news of Jesus Christ represents the greatest romance in the history of the world.
It was agape that created the heavens and the earth.
It was agape that made man in the image of God.
It was agape that sacrificed his life to save us.
Christianity wouldn’t exist without love.
Love Is Everything in Christianity
1 See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn’t know us, because it didn’t know him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God. It is not yet revealed what we will be; but we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and no sin is in him. 6 Whoever remains in him doesn’t sin. Whoever sins hasn’t seen him and doesn’t know him.
7 Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed: that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin, because his seed remains in him, and he can’t sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn’t do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn’t love his brother. (1 John 3:1–10)
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [false teachers]; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let’s love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. 8 He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. 9 By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. 16 We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
17 In this, love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so we are in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. 3 For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three who testify: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three agree as one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is God’s testimony which he has testified concerning his Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who doesn’t believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 The testimony is this, that God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn’t have God’s Son doesn’t have the life. (1 John 4:4–5:12)
Thank You for Your love. I realize I only know about love because You first loved me (1 John 4:19). Teach me how to set aside self-seeking forms of love. I don’t want to hate my neighbor while claiming to love You (1 John 4:20). I want Your agape love to rule my day. Please give me a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Help me forgive as You have forgiven me. And dress me in the perfect binding virtue of love (Colossians 3:12-14).
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