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What Is Love? What does God's Love Look Like?

Love is a common word which is thrown around in our modern Western Culture. We see it everywhere and hear it everywhere. We see churches talk about God’s love or love in itself almost every week. We see love in movies, hear love in songs and have the word love defined by both passion and romance.

When I researched “Definition of Love in Post-Modern Culture” everything that came up (from academic journals) all focus on Passionate Love or romantic love.

“The term “romantic love” seems to have been coined by 19th century literary critic Gaston Paris to denote a particular constellation of attitudes and patterns of behavior that characterized a body of literature arising in Provence in the 12th century (Paris, 1883). Amour courtois (Courtly love) had the following general attributes: an elevation of the status of the woman, a suffering caused by passionate attraction to and separation from the beloved, and a transformation of the lovers which elevates them onto a separate plane of existence, the world of lovers, in which life is experienced more intensely (Paris, 1883). Originally considered a uniquely European phenomenon (Doi, 1973; Hsu, 1985; Stone, 1989), more recent research has shown precursors and analogues of romantic love in Plato’s dialogues, Islamic culture, and ancient Indian writings. In current scholarship romantic love sounds like a fuzzy concept”

--Victor Karandashev, “Online Readings in Society and Culture.”

Love is transformed from ancient thinking into this emotional, passionate and romantic version of love. This love is based on attraction, on feeling, on the dopamine hit that comes from being physically attracted to someone. It is no longer based on the other person rather it is based around how an individual feels. If you haven’t felt a certain emotion with someone therefore you do not love them in a romantic way. It seems that romantic love has taken over the conversation when it comes to how we define the word love in a general sense even though there are different ways to love someone, different forms of love.

Sure, we do have different definitions, when I say “I love you to my mom” it is not a romantic love rather a familial love. The ancient world did an excellent job of defining what love is:

There are six different types of love in the ancient world (biblical context).

· Familial love (in Greek, Storge)

· Friendly love or platonic love (Philia)

· Romantic love (Eros)

· Self-love (Philautia)

· Guest love (Xenia)

· Divine or unconditional love (Agape)

How does God Define Love? What Does Love Look Like in the Biblical context?

Jesus spells it out clearly here, the biblical definition of love is self sacrifice for another person. This goes from friendships, brotherly love and into romantic relationships / marriages.

Jesus tells us clearly that love is about giving your life to someone else, giving it up for someone else.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.”

John 15:12-17

Jesus is commanding His disciples to love one another, to give up their lives for each other. Jesus is later going to do this by dying and giving up His life for the sinful world so they may be saved and live with Him forever in heaven.

This directly contrasts with our modern interpretation of love. Love isn’t an emotion, it isn’t based off attraction or what we can get from a relationship, rather love is based around what you do for someone else. Are you willing to give your life for someone? Are you willing to serve them for no reason rather than to just benefit them and not you?

This is our heart at Enrich.This is why we pack groceries, we deliver grocery hampers, we support students in different ways, why we pray for people and walk alongside of people in our community that need help.God has called us to give our lives to one another because He loves them, therefore we must try our hardest to love them as well

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