Love. It’s perhaps one of the most misused words in the English dictionary. I love coffee and dark (German!) chocolate. I love the sunshine on lazy summer days and my heated blanket on cold winter ones. I love my church. I love my friends, my family, my children, and my husband. Love. Love. Love. I guess you could say that I pretty much love… everything!
Or do I? The word love is strong in our vocabulary. We are all guilty of using it when expressing strong emotion. But, as we have already discussed in our Advent with a Twist series, love is not a feeling – love is an action. A choice.
In order for us to best discover what (or who) we love, we must first learn what love is. There are four unique Greek words that we translate as the single word “love” in English.
- Philia: Brotherly/sisterly love between friends/peers.
- Storge: A parent’s love for their child(ren).
- Eros: Romantic love.
- Agape: The love of God.
This week, our focus is on Philia – the brotherly/sisterly love between friends/peers. Philia is used 54 times in the New Testament and is the most general type of love found in the Bible. Philia is the love that bonds us, as Christ followers, to one another.
It sets us apart. Jesus tells us in John 13:35 that the world will know we are Christians by our love. We are identifiable because of how we care for and respect those around us.
Philia is where we build lasting relationships with others who also desire to know God and make God known. Friends who hold us accountable, friends who are supportive, friends who challenge us in our walks with Christ, friends who laugh and cry with us, friends who love… not just with words, but by their actions. (1 John 3:18)
We are most likely to experience Philia within our churches, specifically within the intimate setting of Community Groups. (Care Groups, Bible Study Groups, MOPS, etc) These are safe places designed with the specific intention of nurturing and growing that love between friends. It’s where we can share our hearts, in complete transparency, and know that we will find support and accountability without judgement or hypocrisy.
As we head into February, the month of love, I would challenge you to spend time looking closely at your own relationships. Are you nonchalantly using “love” as an expression, or are you making a conscious decision to demonstrate philia by moving that love for others into action?
Abundantly More – Knowing God and Making God Known.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-45 NLT