“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Thus begins one of the most eloquent poems about love by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. But I own a book that has even MORE quotes about love, and an even higher level of love than described by Ms. Browning. How about – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38,39)
Even as a youngster, I would watch the Billy Graham Crusades on TV, and hear a baritone named George Beverly Shea sing, “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.”
As eloquent as men and women can be in describing love, the Bible describes a love of God that goes beyond anything the human heart could ever achieve. It was the Greeks who understood that love is such a many faceted thing that there needed to be more than just one word to describe it. So:
EROS – to describe the physical form of love. It’s what we see in the movies and on TV. But this is considered the LOWEST form of love. It sometimes comes mixed with just plain old LUST.
STORGE – This is a higher form of love, but still not perfect love. It is the love we have for family. It very often OBLIGATORY love. “He’s my little brother. I can’t stand him sometimes, but I love him, because he’s my brother.”
PHILIO – We move up the love ladder here because this is a love of CHOICE. I CHOOSE the friends that I will love, so this ranks higher than the first two forms of love. In fact, Jesus, in a conversation with Peter, asked, “Do you PHILIO me?”
AGAPE – The HIGHEST form of love. CHRISTlike love. The word “agape” had not been in the language until Jesus went to the cross. Never before had the world seen the kind of love that would sacrifice that way.
Valentine’s Day comes within the month of February, and on February 9, the message will be “Love Is…….”
The Sunday before that (Feb. 2) happens to be the same day a certain football game will be played. Your pastor happens to be a “sports nut” so you know this day will be something other than ordinary. You are encouraged to wear colors and logos of your favorite football team, pro, college, or even high school. There will be a Super Bowl Trivia Contest with a chance to win a football keychain. And the message of the day is “What Sports Fans and Christians Have in Common.”
I’ll fast forward to the last Wednesday of the month – February 26. Can you believe that this Wednesday is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of the season of Lent? We’ll gather at the church at 6:30 pm and impose ashes, as is our tradition.
This will begin a Lenten sermon series entitled, “The Way of the Cross.” I hope to see you in church!