LOVE: Building Lasting Relationship
Love – Loving Jesus: Luke 7:36-50; Loving God’s Family: John 13:1-17; Loving Your Neighbor: Luke 10:25-37; Love that Forgives: Matthew 18:21-35; Loving with Your Words: James 3:1-12; Love that Lasts: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
“I loved you with an everlasting love.” “I have drawn you with everlasting Love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) (KJV)
3 I have loved thee with an everlasting love
"and with the old love I have loved thee." "Also, with a love of long standing have I loved thee.” "But I love thee always." I still bear to the Jewish people that love which I showed to their fathers in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the Promised Land.
The words refer simply to their state as a people, most wondrously preserved by the providence and mercy of God, as a standing proof of the Divine authority of the Scriptures, and as an evidence of God's displeasure against sin.
Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.
"Therefore have I lengthened out mercy to thee."
"Therefore I have preserved my grace to thee."
The exiles, who had not for a long time received any proofs of the Divine protection, are represented as deploring their state; but God answers, that though this may seem to be the case, he has always loved them; and this continued love he will show by bringing them out of their captivity.
The deliverance for all Israel, and the readmission of the ten tribes. - Jer 31:1. "At that time, saith Jahveh, will I be a God to all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Jer 31:2. Thus saith Jahveh: A people escaped from the sword found grace in the wilderness. Let me go to give him rest, even Israel. Jer 31:3. From afar hath Jahveh appeared unto me, and with everlasting love have I loved thee; therefore have I continued my favor towards thee. Jer 31:4. Once more will I build thee up, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; once more shalt thou adorn [thyself] with thy tabrets, and go forth in the dance of those that make merry. Jer 31:5. Once more shalt thou plant vineyards on the ills of Samaria; planters will plant them, and apply them to common use. Jer 31:6. For there is a day [when] watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim: Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, to Jahveh our God!"
“Love is addictive”
Eros – Passionate Love
Philia – Friendship Love
Agape – A general Love
Storge – Afficionate Love
Love, a word much overused and under defined today, is employed promiscuously of everything from cars to diapers to dog food and is largely equated with feelings.
Love, the most crucial and central concept in Christian theology and ethics, is also one of the most theologically, ethically, psychologically and culturally ambiguous concepts, with diverse interpretations and contradictory definitions. Love, to have a clear referent, requires not only a theological base and a philosophical framework but also a psychological dynamic and ethical content and context.
This will be the outline for our exploration of the forms and types of love.
- Theological Base of Love
Love is considered one of the three primary theological virtues along with faith and hope. Throughout the centuries of theological writing, the analysis of love has centered on love as self-giving agapç. The nature of agapç has moved through a progression of emphases.
As (1) benevolence, that is to love the unlovely and the unlovable, agapç is the generous, altruistic, compassionate love that values the neighbor self-forgetfully, in a self-disinterested concern for his or her welfare. It is in no way dependent on the recipient’s merit or worth, but only on the lover’s generosity. As (2) obedience that acts to love the other because of role, command or moral imperative, agapç is the faithful, willing obedience to the moral imperative to act for the good of the neighbor in fulfillment of the command of Christ. As (3) self-sacrifice that seeks to love the other at the lover’s expense — the other’s need comes first — agapç is self-sacrificial service to the neighbor, which puts the other’s needs above one’s own, even at great cost to the self. As (4) equal regard that perceives the other as equally worthful, even as one knows the self to be precious and of irreducible worth agapç is thus both an act of the will—to exercise compassion toward the other without reservation—and an act of the heart—to value self and other unconditionally. Such love regards the neighbor as loved even when enmity exists, that is, when the other is the enemy.
The first view, benevolence, has been the dominant interpretation of love in Christian history. Most modern and postmodern theologians critique it for its paternalistic element. The fourth view, equal regard, is now more frequently pursued since it is capable of embracing the other three, that is, benevolence, obedience and self-sacrifice, in a way that takes wholeness, justice and well-being seriously for all humankind, including enemies.
Agapç has frequently been defined as “disinterested love,” which allows, even supports, an atomistic individualism, a curious insularity. When it is seen as a total, unselfish form of love that utterly disregards any response, this unilateral love becomes entirely a matter of what I unilaterally offer to do for someone out there or down there in benevolent generosity. But agapç cannot be individualized in such a manner; it is at heart a sharing of experience, recognition of our underlying kinship in the kingdom of God. It is an equal regard grounded in our common existence as creatures from the hand of the Creator, who loves all equally.
We have often been trapped or limited by etymological analyses of words, such as the terms for love in the Scripture. Our understanding of Christian love ought not to hinge on the root meanings of classical Greek verbs, nor on particular usages, but on the decisive test of the central understanding of love in the overall meaning of the New Testament witness to love, of the incarnation’s demonstration of love, of the full impact of the life, teaching, death, resurrection and presence of the loving Christ. The past, present and future reality of the people of God—the church—as the community of love is the body of Christ.
In the biblical world there were at least five words used to designate forms of love, although only three of these appear in the New Testament: (1) eros, the search for an object in aesthetic, passionate or spiritual love; (2) philia, the preferential bond of affection, friendship and social solidarity; (3) storgç, the caregiving love of compassion; (4) agapç, the non-preferential, self-giving love of equal respect; and (5) koinônia, which is love in the mutuality of community, in the sharing of the common life in covenant and commitment (see Fellowship). The fifth love is more than a search for an object (eros) or altruistic self-giving (agapç); it is an expression of mutuality in which giving and receiving are united (koinônia). This is the authentic word for Christian love, the end of the trajectory of the multiple words (eros, philia, storgç, agapç, koinônia). The word koinônia, from koinos “in common,” expresses the fellowship-creating drive toward mutuality, the fellowship-fulfilling goal of equality, the fellowship-celebrating joy of community, the fellowship discipline of impartiality: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14, emphasis added).
- A Philosophical Framework Agapç is a decisive distributing of benefit to self and others.
When agapç is tempered with justice, equal parity becomes a criterion for evaluating what is creative for the other, for the relations and also for the self
Yet agapç, accepting the human need as a necessary point of preferring the other, works toward the parity of equality.
- The Psychological Dynamic
In his analysis of love as unifying power, Paul Tillich wrote, “Love is the tension between union and separation” (p. 25). Love is the moving power of life that seeks the unity of the separated. The individual needs to find unity with other selves but without sacrificing its own or violating the other’s identity.
“To love another is to move as close as possible without either violating the other or losing oneself,”
- Ethical Content Christian theology is grounded in the passionate, eternal, self-giving, unconditional love of God. The presence of God in the birth, life, teaching and death of Christ presents divine love in human experience and community. The incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection are not as much the infusion of supernatural love as the transformation of the natural human experience, the restoration of created human possibilities, the gift of grace that restores the courage to love, the commitment to care even for the enemy, the participation in the power of the Spirit, which enables us to go beyond the common human capacity to love to an uncommon experience of agapç in relationships and community.
Love is a central theme of Scripture and is a primary characteristic of God’s nature (e.g., 1 John 4:8) and the central demand of human life both in relation to God and fellow mankind (Matthew 22:37-40). The most frequently-used term in the NT (agape) generally signifies a spontaneous self-giving unmerited love. This meaning is evident in John’s description of love as God’s giving of Himself in the gift of His Son for the good of those who were totally undeserving (cf. 1 John 4:10). Another word (phileo), while overlapping at times with agape, refers primarily to the love between friends (cf. John 11:3, 36). All love has its source in God, who is love (1 John 4:7-8), and is available to human beings only through the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22). It is clear from the characteristics given below that love involves the total person, i.e., one’s thought, feeling, and action (See also LOVINGKINDNESS).
source of, God -- Galatians 5:22; 1 John 4:16, 19
characteristics of sacrificial -- John 15:13; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 4:10
unselfish -- Galatians 5:13
strong and enduring -- Proverbs 17:17; Song of Songs 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 13:7-8
Love helps you look past offenses (1 Peter 4:8)
God is love (1 John 4:16)
We must be known for our love (2 John 1:5)