In my lifetime I have “loved” a lot of people but looking back it wasn’t real love, more often than not it was lust. My “love” for a person would be dictated by my emotions and I got stuck in a dysfunctional cycle that actually perverted my concept and understanding of love. The world set the example for me and the world let me down, it lead me down an unhealthy road that left me broken and empty more times than I would like to admit. As I have walked through my journey with Jesus He has revealed to me what love really looks like.
There are actually four different types of love:
Eros is a passionate love that is tied to feelings and is the most shallow of all of the types of love. This is where the butterflies come into play and unfortunately is where many romantic relationships will begin and end if Jesus is not the foundation of the relationship. This love is useful because without it we lose our “attraction” that can draw us to a person.
Storge is a kind of family and friendship love. This is what a parent will have for a child or family members have for one another. It is an unconditional love that accepts flaws and and is sacrificial. It is the love that allows you to feel safe, comfortable and secure.
Phileo is the love that is present in friendships. Philadelphia gets it’s name from this word “the city of brotherly love”. This type of love is chosen and it is committed to the person it is attached to.
Agape is the type of love that God has for us. This love is sacrificial, it gives without expecting anything in return. It is the highest and purest form of love and it’s used in reference to God’s nature.
The love I have experienced in the past was nothing more that ‘Eros’. It was shallow, selfish, driven by my flesh and never fully satisfying. I became addicted to the feeling but longed for something deeper. Everything I experienced was so temporary and empty, until Jesus entered my life. At this point I was a train wreck. I was a walking gaping wound looking for anything to stop the bleeding and nothing worked.
I remember sitting in a church service and the pastor asked the congregation if there was anyone who wanted to surrender their lives to Jesus. The word “surrender” sounded accurate to me. I was fighting a battle I couldn’t win and I was at a cross road. I could either surrender to Jesus and let Him fight for me OR I could surrender to my flesh and drink myself into oblivion. Either way, surrender was on the horizon and I had to choose which way I was going to go. I remember sitting on the end of the row, Jordan was on my right and my pride didn’t want him to see me raise my hand so I raise it at my side, no higher than my hip and I waved at the pastor like, “hey lets do this but be discreet about it.” I wish I could say I had a miraculous encounter in that moment but I didn’t. It began a journey that I am still on to become less and less like me and more like Him.
1 Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter. After a long list of what love does and does not do (1 Corinthians 13:1-8) it ends with a profound statement that “love never fails…” The type of love referenced here is “agape”. I also looked up what the word “fail” means (I should know it intimately because I failed math in school like a BOSS!). The word “fail” that is used in this scripture is defined as “to lose authority, not longer have force or sayings or precepts.” At the end of this beautifully written passage Paul ends it with:
The love God has for us will never lose it’s power,
it will never fall from it’s place of authority.
Let’s be honest, we have all been in a relationship where we desired that type of love but it fell short. We longed for the type of love we could count on, that we could feel absolutely secure in, that we never had to question and many times we have been let down. The love this world promotes is shallow and not an accurate depiction of God’s intent for it. We dream of a knight who will come and rescue us but people are people and their love fails. We lose trust, we lose hope, we lose security and we can transfer that mindset to God.
The thing about God is that He is perfect, never changing, He has endless grace and mercy, He’s kind, generous and faithful. We never need to worry about God getting so upset with us that He stops loving us. We never have to worry about Him giving up on us. We never have to fear Him turning His back on us. We never have to look at our relationship we have with Him with anxiety or fear. We never have to perform for Him to love us. He just loves us…it’s who He is and how He operates.
The love that God has for us will keep giving even when He gets nothing return. He keeps loving when we turn our back on Him, He loves us when we are disobedient, He loves us when we intentionally make the wrong choice, He loved us before we ever loved Him and it’s His love that draws us to a place of repentance, brokenness and dependance. Billy Graham said, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”
That’s love! A love that would leave it’s position in heaven, would humble itself and be clothed in flesh, would be rejected by it’s very own creation and become the ultimate sacrifice for all of humanity. Died with nothing but love flowing through His veins knowing some will reject His grace and salvation. The cross is proof that God loves us unapologetically.
This is the kind of love we strive to encounter through people, all the while neglecting the One who IS this kind of love. Perhaps you are wandering through life looking for love, coming up short and wanting. The only love that satisfies is the love God provides. Today make the choice to let Him into your heart and fill the void. His love never fails!