I guess that when you hear love, your mind goes to romantic relationships. The result is for love to be equated to a feeling. But is love a feeling?
There are four kinds of love:
- Agape: This is an unconditional love that loves another regardless of his flaws. This love is about sacrifice and giving and expecting nothing in return.
- Phileo: This love is affectionate, warm, and platonic. It involves having a special interest in someone or a close association.
- Storge: This is the love that exists between parents and children. Siblings also share this love.
- Eros: This is the passionate love which arouses the feeling of romance. It is the love that makes you “high” for that guy or girl, hence it is an emotional and sexual love. Eros can spark a new relationship with the complementary sex but unless the love moves higher, the relationship is not likely to persist. The reason is that eros is focused on self rather than the other person. It is selfish whereas a sustainable relationship requires sacrifice.
Sometimes when someone says, “I love him,” she thinks she has an agape for him whereas it may not be so. Agape is one of the most beautiful things we experience in life which should not be misunderstood.
Love can be misunderstood in the following ways:
- Love is kindness: An attribute is something that is ascribed to another. Another word for it is trait or characteristic. Kindness is an attribute of love. It is not love. With love, you will another person’s good, with kindness, you desire to assist.
- You can be in love with love: This is like saying, “I have hope in hope” or “Faith in faith.” What we love is a very real thing – a person. It is a feeling that makes one say he is in love with love. This leads to another misunderstanding.
- Love is a feeling: You can feel heat or cold. These feelings come from the external. But love comes from within. Love is not a feeling. To like is a feeling but to love is something stronger.
God is love (I John 4:16). He is love itself. God cannot fall in love or grow in love for the same reason that water cannot get wet. When we come to appreciate this, we would want to experience God and indeed grow our capacity to experience him.
God is merciful but I have not found it in scripture where it says “God is mercy.” But God is love and this means his essence is love. Love is his whole being. Everything in him is love and even his mercy is love.
The same God loves us unconditionally and we would do well to love him in return for he has loved us first. Our love for God should not be just a feeling. It should be action. We should love him despite our circumstance. And it is not difficult to know if you love God – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
So, do you love God? Or if that seems abstract, do you keep his commandments?