Monday, May 6, 2013

When "Love" is Too Strong a Word

The Greek language, as I understand it, has different words for different types of love.  “Eros” is sexual, erotic love.  “Phileo” is friendship love.  “Agape” is something else entirely, the love God has for us that is purely unconditional, part of his nature, not at all dependent on who we are or what we do.

I’ve often thought we need to be able to make such distinctions in English because our language not only communicates our thoughts, but our thoughts are shaped by our language.  I read recently: “When the same word can be used to describe feelings toward a dog or a daughter or a deity, it makes no distinction between our latest enthusiasm and our deepest commitment.”  I’ve started trying to pay attention to the words I use.  I enjoy HuHot.  I appreciate high-speed internet.  I love my family.  There’s a difference.

On Good Friday, I attended a performance of Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion”.  I performed in this a couple times many years ago, but this year, the words hit me powerfully, as did the music.  I enjoy music.  I appreciate a well-turned phrase.  I feel satisfaction at an expression of profound truth.  But I found myself meditating that night on a thought I read in a book sometime recently: that everything God created reflects a little bit of Him.  I loved this performance not because of it itself, but because of what it reflected to me of the nature of God.  God is truth.  God is the Word.  And God is the grandeur of the music.  And I love God.
He intends us to enjoy the things he created for us . . . but always with the fact in mind that this thing we’re enjoying is a counterfeit, a poor reflection, of the real thing – the real Him, who we will get to enjoy in full someday.  Earthly blessings are never meant to satisfy our appetites; they are meant to whet them for the real feast we have coming when life here is done.  We enjoy things He’s given us on earth, but our love is reserved for Him.
And the immediate application of this truth for me is that He is to be grasped tightly while every else is held with an open hand.
The goodness and sweetness of a fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie is a blessing from God that he means for me to enjoy.  It reflects his own goodness and sweetness.  But the cookie is a temporary thing – I eat it, and it is gone.  I can’t expect it to continue to satisfy.  It is only there to remind me of a greater sweetness I get to experience in full someday, and to make me long for it.
Writing these dramas for the homeschoolers and putting them on the stage has been a blessing.  To watch words and ideas fall together that communicate truth . . . to see the words lived out on stage like I imagined it in my head (or sometimes better than I imagined it) . . . to see students internalize the truths . . . to see them grow in their confidence before people . . . has all been tremendously satisfying.  But it has been a temporary thing.  It is over now – and there’s no guarantee I’ll have an opportunity like this again in San Antonio.  This was not meant to fill the hole in my soul; it was meant to give me a taste of the real Word, the real Truth, the real One we will someday stand before with confidence, feeling his pleasure.
God has given us many things to enjoy.  But our LOVE is reserved for him and those we bring with us to live with him.


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