So Why a Living Room?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Kind of Love: My Take on Agape

The Best Kind of Love

It’s hearing with your heart, and seeing with your ears

It’s erasing, instead of keeping score
It’s letting go of “me,” and trading it for “us”
It’s giving everything you have, and then somehow giving MORE…
And it's harder than you ever thought it would be
And it’s better than you ever knew it could be

And that’s the truth about Love, Love, Love
The best kind of Love, Love, Love
That’s the truth about Love, Love, Love
The best kind of Love, Love, Love

It’s doing little things, over and over and again
It’s choosing to not have other plans
It’s saying what you mean, and meaning what you said,
It’s knowing all of us could use a second or third chance
And it's harder than you ever thought it would be
And it’s better than you ever knew it could be

And that’s the truth about Love, Love, Love
The best kind of Love, Love, Love
That’s the truth about Love, Love, Love
The best kind of Love, Love, Love

That’s the truth about the best kind of love.
-Em 1/22/09

Have you ever felt like the English language needed more words for "love?" Love has so many different levels and meanings that how can you possibly describe love for your neighbor, love for your dog, love for fruit smoothies, and love for your spouse all with the same word?

The Greek language actually distinguishes between different kinds of love, by using different words.

In a nutshell,
1. "Eros" is what we might call infatuation or attraction, and its existence depends on how you feel at the moment.
2. "Philia" (like Philadelphia, city of brotherly love)
is the word for love of friendship, best friends, or fellowship of people you enjoy being around.
3. "Agape" (pronounced uh-GAH-pay) is the highest form of love--a selfless, proactive love, focused totally on the well-being of another.
This kind of love is based on commitment, not just on how you happen to feel at the time. Agape means you choose to love, no matter how you are being treated and regardless of whether you are experiencing exciting feelings of "Eros" in that particular moment.

These different kinds of love are not separate from each other--in fact, a successful marriage is rooted in agape, which allows both Philia and Eros to thrive. Interesting to think about.

For more info on all this try these:
A Short Handbook on Love
(A very succinct description of all three kinds)
The Four Loves
(A Summary of C.S. Lewis's book, The Four Loves)
(A Wikipedia article about just agape)

So which word do you think was used in the Greek version of the Bible when Jesus taught us to love one another?
Eros? Um, no.
Philia? Huh-uh.

Now let these scriptures take on a new dimension as you extend the meaning of the broad word "love" to mean "agape."

Matthew 22:37-40: "'Thou shalt love (agape) the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love (agape) thy neighbor as thyself."
(Everything about the gospel hangs on this, on agape!)

John 13:35: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love (agape!) one to another.
(I think this is so much bigger than just being nice to other people...the mark of a disciple isn't Eros, and it's not's a deeper, more selfless, more solid kind of love.)

John 3:16: "God so loved (agape!) the world that He gave His only Begotten Son..."
(The ultimate example of sacrfice. The very highest form of love)

John 14:15: "If ye love (agape) me, keep my commandments."
(Keeping the commandments requires us to commit, ahead of time, to obey. Even if we don't think we want to in the moment, we keep our promise to obey because we love Him in an agape way)

Ephesians 5:29: Husbands, love (agape) your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."
(This level of sacrifice and selflessness is a different KIND of love than what we usually see in movies, isn't it?)

So why doesn't English have an agape word? Well, we kind of do. Think Paul, think Moroni...

That's right...Charity!

Moroni 7:45: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in truth, beareth all things, hopeth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things."

This is the essence of agape!

So, this song is called "The Best Kind of Love."
I guess it could also be called:
"Em's Rewording of Moroni 7:45"
or "What Em thinks agape really means"

Now that you know this, go listen to it again!
(Or download it now on itunes or Amazon)

And, here are a few other thoughts that contributed to the writing of this song:

I read Bruce Hafen's book called "Covenant Hearts" a few years ago and it changed my life. So many incredible insights. Here are a few of my favorite passages:

"There is a deep connection between the hard things of life and the best things of life."

"A shallow desire for comfort deprives people of paying the price to feel true JOY...
Joy is a higher, wiser, existence than merely being comfortable."

"The raising of children brings each of us breathtaking vistas of our own inadequacy."

He explores the question of whether our covenants (specifically to spouse and children) are a burden or a privilege and ultimately answers: YES. "The burden is the price we pay for the privilege of coming to know God."

Alright, then. I've done all the talking. Your turn! What do you think about all this agape stuff?

(this is where you post a comment and we pretend we're chatting in my living room...)


Kim said...

Hey Em, congrats on the album. That is really great. I love this quote and thought it fit in with the love theme.

"Energizing, empowering, security-giving love comes out of the lover (like God's love). We love not because someone is lovable but because we are able to love. Sometimes we work at finding people's lovable qualities and try to concentrate on them so that we can learn to love them. When we do that, however, we are not really working at loveing in the way that we have been commanded. The commandment is to love one another "as I have loved you." He is not commanding us to admire one another, but to be there for one another, as he is there for us--love always at the ready. The love must come out of our hearts, not out of our reactions. When we love without the necessity for others to be lovable, we will see their virtues, not look for them." Confronting the Myth of Self-esteem

Em said...

Ooooh. I like that. Real, God-like love is more than trying to focus on people's lovable qualities. And I like the distinction between admiration and love. Good stuff to ponder. Thanks!