February 14, 2018 at 6:00 AM
By Dan Breen
Today is Valentine’s Day. If you presented your significant other with flowers, chocolates or some other romantic gift, I applaud you.
A few weeks ago, I bought my wife, Kristin, a bag a conversation hearts. That’s about as romantic as it gets for me. One year, I knocked it out of the park with the most intimate Valentine’s Day gift a guy could give: a paper shredder.
Walking through the grocery stores this time of year, I try to remember to pick up one of the prepackaged bouquets of roses found at the end of the aisles. I lovingly present them to my wife, with a kind request to return them to their proper water basin before leaving the shopping area.
The ancient Greeks had this love thing figured out way better than the English, and certainly better than I. They had a least four different words for love — and probably more.
Yes, I’m about to give you a Greek lesson. I’m nearly as qualified to teach you Greek as I am to provide good Valentine’s Day gift suggestions. But here goes.
Let’s start with eros. That’s the kind of physical, infatuation, Valentine’s Day love. Then you’ve got storge which is a tight-knit familiar type of love. You’ve probably heard of the third, philia, commonly connected with the city of Philadelphia — the city of brotherly love.
And then there’s agape — the most well-recognized among Christian circles. It’s king above the rest of the love triangle. But it’s also probably the most difficult to describe with mere words.
Calling it “unconditional love” dumbs it down to something less remarkable than what it is. The only way to adequately define it is by example:
- It’s an Almighty God leaving the riches of glory for a degrading manger in Bethlehem.
- It’s the Universe-controlling man who meets a prostitute at a well and doesn’t condemn, but offers Living Water.
- It’s a man who said, “Let the little children come unto me,” and then is later publically stripped, flogged and humiliated on their behalf.
- It’s a man whose hands were spiked to a cross while uttering, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
That’s agape, folks. That’s raw, unconditional love — described not by words, but by actions. Our model of love has set the bar extremely high.
Your forever Valentine showed his agape love to you. Are you sharing it back with Him?