Friday, September 24, 2010

The A Word

Personally, I am very careful with the word “love.” I have no idea if I have ever been “in love” before, what does that even mean? I have never said those three words to a woman in the context of a romantic relationship. In a moment of rare open conversation, I once asked a group of my single grown-up male friends if they had ever been “in love.” I was surprised to hear that most of them said yes. After our conversation, it seems that most of them seem to define being “in love” as an extreme sense of affection for someone resulting from the combination of physical attraction and emotional attachment. I think if these guys were to be honest, they would say that they are no longer in love with that person.

As hard as it is to define love between humans, how hard is it to define love of God? The actions that signify love in humans might be very different from the actions that signify love for God. What does it look like to love God?

In the original Shema Yisreal from Deuteronomy 6:5, Moses used the Hebrew word “ahab” for “love.” From what I have read about it, this seems like it meant pretty much the same as our word for love. When Jesus repeats these words in Mark 12:29, he uses the Greek word “agape.” This word seems to combine affection with selflessness. This type of love seeks the good of the other.  In his book “The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis called agape the purest form of love.

Knowing this definition, I wonder how many people actually have agape for God and/or others? Instead, we use knowledge of God’s agape to quell our fears and anxiety. We take other people’s selfless love for granted. Sometimes I do not love God in this way, seeking him above myself. I think relationships would work much better if we included some more agape.  People talk about the L word often, what do you think about the A word?

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