This week's memory verse:"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
I "love" to learn more about LOVE! Most of the New Testament was written in Greek. In the Greek language, there are two words to describe our one word- love. PHILEO- means a special interest or affection for a person- like "brotherly love" or a strong connection between people. AGAPE - which is self-sacrificing love. Think a mother staying up all night with a sick child, or the ultimate example of agape is Jesus giving up his life for us.
Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and to lay down our lives for our friends- He was encouraging us to demonstrate agape love. It doesn't say you had to FEEL anything for those people, agape love is intentional, a deliberate choice- an act of obedience and commitment. I had never thought of love in this manner before.
There are many verses of the Bible that I have read many times, that have become familiar to me...I think I know what they are trying to say and teach me. Today I saw one of these verses take on a new meaning in my mind. Read John 21:15-19
Now, according to the Bible study book I am reading, when Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, he used AGAPE, but when Peter answered, with "of course I love you" he used PHILEO. BIG difference there. My book also leads me to understand that when Jesus asks "Do you love me more than these," THESE is referring to the HUGE catch of fish that they had just caught. Since he was using AGAPE, he us saying "Do you love me enough to give up your possessions, like the reward of this HUGE catch of fish?"
I have to admit, I am a bit amazed that Peter doesn't use AGAPE. I mean this whole scene is taking place AFTER Jesus died...he appeared to these men AFTER they witnessed him hung on a cross! Just seeing Him alive would cement in their minds that he WAS who he had claimed to be - the son of God, right?
But, Peter three times answers Jesus by using PHILEO, and actually gets his feelings hurt at the question. OF COURSE I love you, my brother. Jesus is trying to make him see what He wants Peter to do with the rest if his life...give up his plans, desires, possessions and wishes and "Feed my sheep." Jesus has a job for Peter...to start His church, to take care of His people.
Our book asks me where I think I am in my relationship with God in regard to the kind of love I am giving Him. I did some real soul-searching...I WANT to show agape love to God...I want to think of myself doing that. But, I think I GIVE Him PHILEO love. I am so like Peter! I forget what He has done for me...what miracles and blessings I have received because of Him! There are STILL things I hang on to control of...money decisions...food...I STILL act in very selfish ways most of the time. I need to search my heart some more for ways that I can be deliberate, intentional, and obedient, and show AGAPE love to the people around me, even people I don't even phileo love... THEN I would be moving toward AGAPE love to my creator.
Some may ask what all this learning about love stuff has to do with healthy living...don't we have to LEARN how to be obedient and do what Christ taught us in order to learn to love ourselves? True happiness and contentment comes from NOT putting ourselves first, but by putting CHRIST first! It's a learning process!How can YOU move to a deeper relationship with God? How can YOU show more AGAPE love to the people in your life? Can you learn to be more intentional about it?