Thursday, January 7, 2016

"God is love." OK, so what is love?

The Word for today:
(the epistles) "2 John" & "3 John"
1 John: "God is love."
1 John tells us that "God is love." (1 John 4:8, 16)
OK. So, what is love?
2 John and 3 John set out to clarify the concept of "love."
We all know tales of love gone wrong--tales of "mad love, shadow love, random love, and abandoned love." (1)
That's soap-opera love, described by the Greek word 'eros,' from which we get the English word 'erotic.' That is not the word used when the Bible says God is love. In fact, the word 'eros' doesn't appear in the Bible at all.
'Phileo' is translated as 'love' in our Bibles. 'Phileo' implies a strong emotional connection, a deep friendship. But it's not the word used when the Bible says God is love.
The word used to describe God's love is 'agape.' A thorough description of 'agape' love is in the famous "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13.
But the definitive demonstration of 'agape' -- the love that God is -- is the cross of Jesus Christ.
People today are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling, but that is not necessarily the case with 'agape.' 'Agape' is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels.
God so loved ('agape') that He gave His Son -- not because He felt like it.
Christ so loved ('agape') that he gave his life. He did not want to die. But he loved, so he did what God required.
Throughout the Bible we are called upon to 'agape' our enemies. Nowhere does it say we have to like them.
2 John: Love stands against false teachers
'Agape' does not direct us, or even allow us, to compromise the truth about Jesus Christ in order to “get along” with others.
We think of love as friendliness and co-operation and other warm fuzzi-ness. But while Jesus never stopped loving the world for a second, He didn’t cooperate with the world system and he was sometimes decidedly unfriendly. (Just ask the Pharisees!)
2 John, addressed to those whom the apostle loves in the truth (1:1), says we are not to be hospitable toward those who do not follow the doctrine of Christ crucified in the flesh; we are not even to wish the deceivers and antichrists "God speed" (2 John 1:10/KJV). It goes on to say that if we even wish the deceiver well, we are partakers of his evil deeds!
The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). That means that, whenever possible, we are to serve up the truth "warm"--but it’s truth we are to serve up.
3 John: Love stands in support of the true gospel of Christ
While 2 John tells us what God's love stands against, 3 John tells us what 'agape' stands for.
God-like love stands for the truth -- by supporting teachers, preachers, missionaries, and evangelists who spread the Good News of salvation from sin through faith in Christ crucified. When we support them, we become fellow workers for the truth (3 John 1:8).  That's the love God loves.
(1) Warren Zevon, "Accidentally, Like a Martyr"

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