Love as an Action Verb

When I first started writing this post in my head, before I had posted it on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog, back in 2009, in my head the title was “Love Is an Action Verb.” But as I thought more about it I realized there is more than one kind of love, and that love AS as an action verb was just one – and in my opinion the best – form of love.

Four Kinds of Love

In our impoverished English language, we use the word love in many different ways. I love my spouse, I love my dog, I love chocolate, I love my new shoes, I loved that movie I watched last night, and I love God. Surely we don’t have the same feelings about all of these things, yet we use the same word. In the parts of the Bible that were originally written in Greek, there are four different Greek words that we translate as love:

  • Storge – refers to the love that is felt between family members and close relatives.
  • Philia – refers to the love that is between friends.
  • Eros – refers to deep emotion or passion that is felt between lovers and spouses.
  • Agape – refers to the kind of love that God has for us and is what I mean by love as an action verb.

Agape is a kind of love that is about giving, not about getting. God showed us what agape is by His incarnation as Jesus Christ and by His death on the cross to pay for our sins. Agape is not just a feeling, it is what God is. He acts towards us in the way that He does not because of how He feels about us, but because of who He is; because He chooses to love us with agape love.

Agape is a type of love that we can, if we choose, combine with any one of the other three kinds of love. We can go beyond how we feel about others and truly love them in the way that God loves us. C.S. Lewis put it this way in his wonderful book Mere Christianity:

“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find out one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

Agape and Philia

A couple of years ago, I went to the beach with some old friends and had an opportunity to practice agape with someone towards whom I feel philia. Before I left home for the weekend, I received an email from one of my friends saying it would be really great if the house we were renting was all warmed up, with the water turned on and 7-layer bars baking in the oven, when they arrived. These friends had a much longer drive than I did, and she knew I would arrive at the house several hours before they did.

I can tell you that I did not feel like driving by myself at night in the pouring rain to Cannon Beach, I did not feel like hunting around outside in the wind and rain for the water valve to turn on the water, and I really did not feel like baking cookies in the gas oven in a kitchen I am unfamiliar with. But I chose to do all of those things anyway because I love my friends and wanted to make them happy. I combined the philia I felt with agape I have learned from God and received blessings in return.

Agape and Eros

In our society today a high percentage of marriages end in divorce. Often the reason cited is that one spouse doesn’t love the other anymore; that feeling they had when they met is gone. The type of love that can disappear in a relationship is eros.

Now eros is important for couples to be attracted to each other and get married, but it cannot, by itself, sustain a lifelong commitment. To create a lasting marriage, a couple must combine eros with agape. Each spouse must act as if they love the other even when they don’t feel like it or are angry or annoyed by the other spouse. A simple text to say “I love you,” a special dinner that your spouse likes, doing housework to lighten the other’s load, a hug and a kiss at the beginning and end of each day – all of these actions are examples of agape.

Who do you need to love (agape) today?

Each day we need to make a conscious effort to incorporate agape love into our interactions with those around us. Who is God calling you to love today? Don’t feel like it? As Nike would say, “Just do it.” After all, love as an action verb can be a blessing to others that is returned to you in an even greater measure than you give.

 

My Two Sons

Pencil Portraits by Billy Nicol Creative

I have two sons and they are very different from each other. Connor is the oldest and he is an engineer who recently graduated from college with good leadership skills. He was born into our family with three older sisters.

My other son is Morris and he was born into abject poverty in Liberia, Africa. He came to our house when he was six. He has outstanding coordination, Is an excellent athlete, and is very musically inclined.

Connor and Morris have very different strengths as well as different weaknesses. One of my jobs as a dad is to allow them to be unique and to adjust my expectations accordingly. Ideally I could maximize their strengths while teaching them to mitigate their weaknesses.

I believe God in this respect is similar to a good dad. He doesn’t expect the same from everyone. He actively works with our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aptitudes and abilities. That is one reason not to compare oneself to others as He has specific hopes and desires for each of us.

Likewise reading the bible like every verse currently applies to everyone is foolish. No one could possibly meet that standard. Scripture is best personally handled by asking Him what He wants you to see-to focus on-for yourself.

Jesus knows what He created. He knows your frame as David said. Rest in that knowledge and ask Him to speak individually to you about your walk with Him. He is among many other things very personal.

Your brother in Jesus,

Les

commentsbb@yahoo.com

Running Together

running
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Hebrews 12:1

 “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20

It is easier to run alone, rather than run in a group. Running with others means keeping pace with those around you. Not so fast that you outpace the slower ones, and not so slow that you slow down the group. There are many who simply prefer running without the ‘constraints’ of others. Consider these:

  • Timing, learning the right stride so you won’t collide
  • Hydration, staying healthy
  • Muscle cramps, managing the pain
  • Encouragement, for those who are weary or limp
  • Finish line, keep everyone’s eyes on the final outcome

Perhaps this all seems difficult. To be consistent in this kind of running is far too restrictive. It seems more difficult than running alone; there are far too many issues. And yet, I have determined that running with others has its own rewards.

We were never meant to be alone— solitary persons. We were created to engage the personalities of others. We must either slow down or speed up to keep the cohesion of everyone. We may want to speed up the pace a little bit. But if we do, it would mean the separation of the slower runners. But we are meant to run with others.

We will make these decisions on the spur of the ‘racing’ moment. Yet they determine everything. Will I curtail my desire to win, without you? Can I stand at the ‘winners line’ confidently after leaving you far behind?

We belong together. We simply can’t run solo anymore. Mental illness (as well as a physical illness) has a strong tendency to isolate. We find ourselves alone, far more than what is healthy. We make excuses, far more than is appropriate. We determine to advance, or to just ‘give up’ without affecting the other runners.

At times we must ‘gear down’ if we are to run with others. We must stop thinking ‘me’ and start thinking ‘you’. This so militates against our personal preferences. We don’t want to give up our own quest for glory. We still ascribe to the virtue of the ‘first gets the best.’ But at other times an inner voice insists we must speed up to keep the pace.

Yet there is nothing in the scriptures about ‘going it alone.’ There is nothing that would suggest this. Yes, there are individuals, and yes they stand out. But the glacial mass is toward a corporate understanding of the truth– that we will arrive together (carrying one another into Church.)

I would simply suggest that we become aware of our brother and sister who are trying to run next to us. They are working so hard to keep pace. Some even limp trying to keep up. We can’t ‘blow them off.’ We realize that we’re linked with them. We can’t turn away from that. When we do cross the finish line, it will be together.

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:27

bry-signat (1)

How Things Happen

burst=fireworks

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Matthew 13:31-33, ESV

These are perhaps the three most potent verses in the entire Bible. And whenever you find “potency” you will find a strong possibility of exponential growth. It may be a steady synergy, or an explosive fission. Either way, it’s going to grow!

Both the seed and the yeast have so much in common. They are two sides of the same proverbial coin. And they represent explosive growth. If they are unleashed, watch out! They are both “pep and power” and now set loose they will take off.

The seed is put in the ground and the yeast in the flour. And the farmer and the baker both do their initial work of planting or kneading, and then they just stand back, their work is pretty much done. They now just let “nature” take its course.

These parables Jesus taught here are small— but hardly less significant because of their brevity. These two can bury you with all they imply and mean. When we think clearly about yeast in your cupboard and that single seed in its package, we should see the “life” that resides in them, and the potential that waits.

I think much about the Church. At times, I admit I get frustrated with it. I get judgmental, and fearful that it won’t survive into the next century.  I truly understand that I can be critical. At times my friends must deal with my “ugliness,” but still they put up with me. (They are true friends.)

The kingdom is growing, and advancing. I love the wonderful promise in Isaiah 9:6, (usually read at Christmas time only. A mistake.) But Isaiah 9:7 is also pretty amazing too,

“His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!”

Let it grow, let it grow! 

*

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

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