C.S. Lewis On Agape

C.S. Lewis“Of course taking in the poor illegitimate child is ‘charity.’ Charity means love. It is called Agape in the New Testament to distinguish it from Eros (sexual love), Storgë (family affection) and Philia (friendship). So there are 4 kinds of ‘love,’ all good in their proper place, but Agape is the best because it is the kind God has for us and is good in all circumstances. (There are people I mustn’t feel Eros towards, and people I can’t feel Storgë or Philia for; but I can practice Agape to God, Angels, Man and Beast, to the good and the bad, the old and the young, the far and the near. You see Agape is all giving, not getting. Read what St. Paul says about it in First Corinthians Chap. 13. Then look at a picture of Charity (or Agape) in action in St. Luke, chap 10 v. 30-35. And then, better still, look at Matthew chap 25 v. 31-46: from which you see that Christ counts all that you do for this baby exactly as if you had done it for Him when He was a baby in the manger at Bethlehem: you are in a sense sharing in the things His mother did for Him. Giving money is only one way of showing charity: to give time and toil is far better and (for most of us) harder. And notice, though it is all giving—you needn’t expect any reward—how you do gets rewarded almost at once.” ―C.S. Lewis

Fuller Love

Fuller loveLove is not always flowery and sweet, where everyone gets along, and no one is ever mean or even unkind. Actually that’s not love; that’s selfishness. You’re saying, “I will love you because it makes me feel good. I get something special out of this when I am kind and loving to you.”

The ancient Greeks had different words for love. Whereas we use love for food (“I love my pasta”), and the same word for special people (“I love my wife”). But we all know that I’m not really saying my wife and a plate of spaghetti are on the same level.

So the Greeks had a word for love for the inanimate (like food and music), and a word for this-makes-me-feel-so-good (like sex and alcohol), and a word for treating someone humanely or kindly (sometimes called brotherly love). These are well-known loves, but they are very fragile. The law of diminishing returns says that each time I experience one of these loves, its ability to please me the next time is slightly reduced, until at one point this thing/person no longer satisfy me at all. In fact, they may even cause my stomach to churn in nausea.

But there was one more word the Greeks used for love, that the biblical writers used almost exclusively. This word (agape) is not tuxedos and dancing gowns and chandeliers. This love shows up in work clothes, with callouses on its hands and knees, because it’s determined to serve someone else no matter what!

This is the kind of love God exhibited toward us—God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

And this is the kind of love Jesus commanded us to exhibit toward others… even toward those we think are unloveableBy this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another…. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that. (John 13:35; Luke 6:32-33)

This is the kind of full love that those apart from Jesus Christ do not know, but they can see it and be drawn to it if Christians will demonstrate it. Henry Drummond said this—

Never offer men a thimbleful of gospel. Do not offer them merely joy, or merely peace, or merely rest, or merely safety; tell them how Christ came to give men a more abundant life than they have, a life abundant in love…. Then only can the gospel take hold of the whole of a man, body, soul and spirit. …Only a fuller love can compete with the love of the world.

Let’s show the world a fuller love, and in so doing we will show them Jesus!

I will be continuing my series on Loving The Unloveable next Sunday. Please join me!

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