Free Love

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (I John 4:8, 9)

To say God “is love” (agape) is to say that God is the most self-sacrificial being in the universe, and as such he went to incredible lengths to set humankind right. For Christians, God is the very definition of self-sacrificial love (agape) and what it truly means. 

This love described in 1 John 4 implies something fundamental about the freedom of God. Love cannot be compelled, manipulated, or predetermined if it is to be genuine love. It has to be freely given and freely received. God did not have to love a world full of self-centered and sinful human beings, but he chose to do this—and this accorded with God’s very nature. Even more interesting and surprising is that 1 John 4 also tells us that God’s love comes to its fullest as freely expressed toward his “beloved humans.” 

Therefore, “We love (agapomen),”  “because he first loved (egapesen) us.” (1 John 4:19) Our response is also free. We are to freely obey the great commandment to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It is, of course, true that in the great commandment, “You shall love (agapeseis) the Lord your God with all your being” (Mark 12:30), the writer is not referring to feelings.

The commandment to love God has little to do with feelings. It has to do with self-sacrificially loving God and others just as we have been loved by God.

That is the greatest challenge any person will ever be given.

In Greek there are four basic kinds of love. They are:

Eros: Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.

Philia: Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family, and community, requiring virtue, equality, and familiarity.

Storge: Familial love; affection; natural empathy for one’s family, country, or team.

Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; charity; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for humankind and humankind’s love for a good God and for others. 

It is the last of these that is used of God and our love for Him. Read that definition and ask yourself, am I showing that kind of love for God and people?