This is post #10 of a 16-session blog series entitled The Christ Collection: Putting on the Likeness of Jesus. Each and every day, you and I, as Christ followers, can pull out a few of these beauties and slip into something comfortable. Hand-crafted masterpieces made for this world, so when we wear them, we can go out on Christ’s behalf, shining brightly like the Son. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3: 12-14 (NLT)
A simple, four-letter word.
A word that means so very much, yet is so overused, the meaning is nearly lost.
Allow me to give you an example from my own life.
I love God. I love Jesus. I love the Holy Spirit. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my Honda CRV. I love hamburgers. I love going to the movies. I love music. I love writing. I love Iowa football. I love love.
That’s a whole lot of lovin’…
But, what does it really mean?
Are all of these “loves” equal?
Gosh, I hope not.
Yet, in English, there is only one word to express my different dimensions of love.
So, when Paul invites us to…
Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
I’m thinking that I already have about ten layers of love on me! Why would I need more?
So, before we go to our closet and try to slip on one more layer of love, let’s chat a bit here about what Paul had in mind.
First of all, in first-century Greek, there were several different words used for the different types of love found in the human experience. While most Bible scholars speak of four unique Greek words, there were actually at least six. Let me give you a quick overview:
- Eros referred to love as a sexual passion.
- Philia referred to love as an affectionate regard or friendship between equals.
- Storge referred to love as an affection or natural empathy between parents, children and family.
- Philautia referred to love in regard to one’s own happiness, or a self-love.
- Xenia referred to love as a guest-friendship or a generosity or courtesy in hospitality.
And finally, the word Paul uses here in today’s text…
- Agape referred to love as a benevolent goodwill, a moral preference, or charity. In the New Testament, agape was used to describe the unconditional, unending, unyielding love and goodwill that flows from our loving Creator/King to us, His children. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, defined God’s agape love as an esteemed action that “wills the good of another.”
So, you see, in English, I can love many things, but in Greek…
I storge God. I storge Jesus. I storge the Holy Spirit. I storge, philia, and eros my wife. I storge my kids. I philia my friends. I philautia my Honda CRV. I philautia hamburgers. I philautia going to the movies. I philautia music. I philautia writing. I philautia Iowa football. I xenia love.
But notice this. As one of God’s children, holy and dearly loved, now adopted into the family of God, and in Christ, now commissioned to the continuing work of Jesus, I am now called to become an active agent of God’s agape love.
Yes, that’s right.
The same agape (divine love) that, in the New Testament, is assigned to God, our Heavenly Father, is now the form of love that I can wear as a garment.
Willing the good of another.
Wow. Almost makes me want to start another blog series just so we can unpack all of these English words and phrases that go into defining God’s agape love.
My Prayer: Jesus, words are important. Yet as Fr. Richard Rohr states, every word I speak is limited. Each word I use is not reality itself, but only a metaphor that points to reality. So, when I say, “I love You, Jesus” my words will fall short in pointing to the full reality of my feelings I have for You. Master, since You know my thoughts even before I speak them, know that I love You with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. For Your glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Thoughts to Ponder: Knowing and experiencing the full dimensions of God’s agape love for me (see Ephesians 3: 18), what might it look like to slip on that same Garment of Agape Love and go out, in God’s strength, loving others in that same capacity? Finally, as I survey the Eight Holy Garments we’ve discussed thus far…
Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Becoming Otherly. Forgiveness.
How might the Garment of Agape Love become the top layer that compliments all the others?
So, what are you experiencing as we ponder upon Colossian’s Christ Collection?
We hope you’ll enjoy these 16 blogs that focus on the amazing garments and accessories God has hand-crafted for us so that as we wear them, we can better reflect the nature and likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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