“These three remain-faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13
Back in the 80’s, I came across a book by C.S. Lewis titled: ‘Four Loves’. Before reading this book, what I knew of ‘Love’ was somewhat limited and contorted. How we learn about Love as a child has a great impact on the choices we make later in life. If an authoritative figure professed to love us, yet abused us, we are taught to view love through this distorted lens. It can lead us to choose abusive mates later in life because of this. Some that were abused as a child will pass on this abuse to their own children and believe they are loving them in the process. After all, they had been educated that such is ‘Love’. As a result, the cycle of abuse and victimization continues all in ‘the Name of ‘Love’.
When a tragedy occurs, such as the death of a child, many will blame God. When wars occur, when poverty exists and we see pictures of starving children, when illnesses and diseases plague those we love…we often experience an intense anger toward God.
“How can a loving God allow such suffering???”
“If a God does exist, I want nothing to do with Him.”
Sadly, we tend to perceive God through that distorted lens. ‘Man’ has misrepresented God throughout the ages. If it is true that ‘God is Love’ (1 John 4:8, 16), based on what we have been taught that love is, our natural response could be to run away from Him as fast as we can under such circumstances. There is no shortage in this world of abusive pedagogues and false teachers.
Because of my life experiences, I had a difficult time believing that God truly does love me. I wanted Him to, I hoped that He did, but ‘knowing’ that He does presented a challenge. I had to separate out the so-called ‘love’ of ‘man’, from the Love of God. My mind and my heart needed to be re-wired. Re-education of love was essential if I was ever to embrace a reality in which I knew and felt truly loved.
Lewis eloquently differentiated between four ‘types’ of Love:
1- Eros. For Lewis, this described ‘falling in love’. Today, in our culture it has often been distorted to an almost animalistic and lascivious nature. But that is not how it was viewed through the eyes of Lewis.
2- Philia. Lewis describes such as: “to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it”. It is a ‘love of choice’ in which a strong bond exists between people who share common values, interests or activities.
3- Storge. This love is described as: ‘liking someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in familiar ways that have otherwise found themselves bonded by chance. An example is the natural love and affection of a parent for their child. It is described as the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed “valuable” or worthy of love and, as a result, is able to transcend most discriminating factors. Lewis describes it as a dependency-based love which risks extinction if the needs cease to be met.’ (Wikipedia)
If we grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive environment, it is this ‘love’ that often hinders us the most in discovering the true Love of God.
4- Agape. This is the unconditional Love of God. It is true Love, pure Love, above and beyond all loves. I recently read an article in which someone stated that God’s Love is not unconditional because He does send some to Hell. I agree that Hell does exist and sadly some will spend eternity there. To deny such, I would have to rip out pages of God’s Word. However, I do not agree that such negates the categorical truth that Agape is unconditional.
Bad things happen in this world because it is inherently fallen. That is why Jesus the Christ was sent to suffer and die to redeem us. For the Son of God to become lower than the Angels, His own creation, and die such an excruciating death for you…for me…is Love. God, Who is Love, is described in 1 Corinthians 13 as such:
4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Love never faileth…
Now that is a Love I can embrace.
1 John 4:
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728
Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/
Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))