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Eros, Phileo, Agape: What’s Love Got to do with It?


I woke up this morning to the beep of my cell phone.  Two of my best friends sent me text messages saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet pal.”  Incredibly thoughtful!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I am so very grateful for the many friends I have that love me, and the feeling is mutual.  I call them my kindred spirits after the book “Anne of Green Gables” where the Anne and Diana vowed their sacred love for one another for all time as best friends, kindred spirits on a journey.  I am so grateful for my family that loves me!  (And they have to live with me so you know how tough loving me can be!)  Further, I am so grateful for the community of faith of which I am a part of, for their love and support and for their discipleship in the world that seeks to share Christ’s love!

There are different kinds of love and yet all love comes from the same God.  St. John said something to that effect. . . 7-10My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.11-12My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!                          (1 John 4: 7-12 The Message)

Passionate love (eros), brotherly/sisterly love (phileo) and perfect/divinely inspired/Holy Spirit given love (agape) all come from the One who loves us and sent us his only Son to wrap us in his eternal love.  Sometimes love comes easily and effortlessly.  This is the love we all rejoice in, dwell in, bask in. . . it makes us feel good, it is a shared “knowing” that there is something between two people.  There is other love that is takes a bit more effort.  We have work at it and yet it is just as valuable.  Jesus taught his disciples that it is easy to love those who love us and yet our task is to love all people including our enemies, or those who aren’t quite enemies but a little bit more difficult to embrace.  This is the life changing journey of discipleship. . . to love as Jesus loved- all people, no matter how hard, no matter how long it takes, no matter how much energy or frustration or angst it involves.  All humans need to be loved and some folks are the way they are because they have not had ENOUGH love, TRUE love, UNCONDITIONAL love, AGAPE love.

So perhaps on this syrupy sweet Hallmark holiday we might think less of erotic love and more about the brotherly/sisterly and divine-inspired love.  The world needs what Christ has to offer and his love is poured out into the world through his followers.  The thing is, you never know when the love you pour out into your community of faith, into the community where you live, and into people that others don’t care a thing about, will come back around and a life will be changed, transformed, deepened, widened by love.  You may never see the results of your love on other people but as you give that love away freely your heart will open wider, Christ will fill you deeper, and God’s love will be poured into you and change you.  Love is never ending. Love is a renewable resource.  Give it away!  Give it away some more, and lives will be changed, including your own!

God bless you this day and always!


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