What is Love?

What is Love?

Author: The Rev. Dr. David Bridges, Priest
October 28, 2020

As I ask that question, I discover how difficult it is to answer. How would you describe love? If you think love is a feeling, think again; that could be heartburn. If you think love is like a fantasy, that can be dangerous; fantasy is almost always better than reality.

What does “love” mean in the Bible? There are seven different Greek words in the New Testament that are translated, “love” in English, yet each one has a different meaning. They are: (1) Eros – Romantic Love; (2) Philia – Affectionate Love (Like a good friend); (3) Storge – Familial Love (Parents, brother, sister, etc.); (4) Pragma – Enduring Love; (5) Philautia – Self-Love (Self-esteem); (6) Ludas – Playful Love (Butterflies in your stomach); (7) Agape’ – Unconditional love.

At Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked which of the Commands of the Mosaic Law is the most important. He replies: “Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In this statement several types of love are included. The “love” we are to have for God encompasses affectionate, familial, enduring, and sometimes playful love. When we truly experience the love of God, we are also able to experience a healthy form of self-love; realizing that we are children of God and therefore priceless.

In the statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, the Greek root is Agape’; “unconditional love.” Recall the words of the Apostle John, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that all who believe in him will never die, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

That root is also Agape’. Therefore, God’s love for humankind is “unconditional”, just as our love for other humans is required to be unconditional. There were no footnotes added by John to exclude anyone from the love of God.

The realization that God’s love for us is unconditional gives us the freedom to love God without feeling pressured into it. God’s love is an invitation to a relationship; an indescribable unity of body, mind, soul, and Spirit, not a threat or condition of love.

God’s love does not separate us from one another, it unites us when we live-in to God’s love appropriately. How do we live-in to God’s love appropriately? When Jesus is quoted as saying, “Love your enemies”, that is also Agape’, unconditional love. The same goes for Jesus saying, “love one another as I have loved you.”

There is the difficulty; learning to love others unconditionally. Human love is always conditional. If someone hurts us, we don’t feel like we can love them. The truth is, you don’t have to like someone to love them (Agape’ love, that is).

If our lives depended on God “liking” us, we would be in trouble most of the time. Humans do a lot of un-likeable things to each other and this planet. It’s a good thing God loves us!

Blessings and Peace to you All,
Fr. David+   


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