Love Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Love in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Deuteronoy 6:4-5</a>, the Shea</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 36:5</a>, &quot;Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 103:13-17</a>, &quot;The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 5:43-45</a>, love your enemies</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 22:36-40</a>, the greatest commandment</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 15:9-13</a>, keep God&#39;s commandments and you will abide in God&#39;s love</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Corinthians 13:4</a>, &quot;Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Colossians 3:12-14</a>, cloth yourselves with love</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 John 2:9-10</a>, love one another and live in the light</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Love</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">As a Fruit of the Spirit</span></strong></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Love is the first<span class="body-copy">fruit listed in Paul&#39;s classic passage in Galatians 5, even as love is highlighted elsewhere in the New Testament as the core virtue or fruit that entails (and binds together in unity) all other spiritual fruit. If love is present, things like joy and patience and kindness naturally follow. Without true love, these other fruit/virtues cannot get beyond surface behaviors that lack depth and genuineness.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Kinds of Love</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Traditional<span class="body-copy">ly Christians have often spoken of the varieties of love by way of three common Greek words: agape, philos, and eros. Agape is often said to be the truest kind of God-like love, and it is the quality of love we owe to God but that we are also instructed to extend to all people. Agapic love is self-giving, self-sacrificing, self-forgetting love that leads us to be the servants of others, even as Christ came to serve and not be served. Philos is said to be the love between friends. Although friend-love includes agapic love, it has its own peculiar qualities that bind people in friendships based on mutual respect, shared interests, and so on. Eros is erotic or romantic love, the love that flourishes between spouses and that typically includes the sexual component of &quot;making love&quot; within the context of a marriage relationship. This love also includes agapic love but has the distinctive romantic qualities associated with courtship, marriage, and family. But agapic love is that to which all people are called. This is the love that seeks to give life to the beloved, to enrich another with no regard as to whether the lover will reap benefit. In Scripture&#39;s most famous passage on love, the apostle Paul goes so far as to claim that without love among God&#39;s people, their gifts and ministry are hollow at their core. &quot;Love never ends. . . .&quot; &quot;The greatest of these is love. . . .&quot; This love, then, defines Christian identity as rooted i</span>n Christ. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Loving and Liking</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Christians are calle<span class="body-copy">d to love all people with the quality of God&#39;s own love as we see God&#39;s image in every person we meet. Within even the community of the church, however, this kind of love need not entail being best friends with everyone. We can love people even if they would not be our first choice for dinner companions; we can love people whose views, tastes, or lifestyle mean they are people we don&#39;t particularly like. This can be a fine line, of course, as sometimes our dislike of someone can quickly morph into behaviors that end up being unloving, or we can use our dislike as an excuse not to love some peo</span>ple in Christ. But it is possible to extend God&#39;s love to people we do not know well and to those with whom we have little in common.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">&quot;The power of aga<span class="body-copy">pe &mdash; otherwise quite powerless &mdash; is perhaps nowhere better seen than in the tale of &quot;Beauty and the Beast,&quot; where Beauty does not love the Beast because he is beautiful but makes him beautiful because she loves him. Ultimately, in other words, agape is God&#39;s love for humankind, and only as God&#39;s gift are humans enabled at rare moments to love that way themselves &mdash; transformingly, unconditionally, no matter what. Thus when Paul says `love never ends,&#39; he is not being sentimental or merely rhetorical. There is no doubt that eros ends. Agape, on the other hand, is without end as God is witho</span>ut end because it is of the essence of God.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Frederick Buechner, {{<em>The Clown in the Belfry</em>}}, Harper Collins 1992, p. 57.)</span></span></p>