One of the most misunderstood words in the modern world is “love”. To some, the word conjures up an appreciation for a tasty sweet like a chocolate cookie or savory meats. To another, it may describe what evokes some sensory pleasure, such as seeing the Yosemite valley’s waterfalls at a particular time of day. Dog-people or cat-people love our furry companions, which as writers and artists have ascribed as often more loyal and forgiving than many humans. In many languages, ancient and modern, love is described with different terms to characterize its “length, breadth, and depth”. In ancient Greek, ἔρως, anglicized as eros, is the word for sexual love, while φιλέω, phileo, describe brotherly affection or friendship. The love associated within families for one another, a belonging, is φιλόστοργος, ον philostorgos.
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
But to devoted followers (or apprentices) of Jesus Christ, the Biblical Greek word, ἀγάπη, agape, is an unconditional love for God and for other human beings taught to us by Jesus. It is what the apostle Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 13. This past Saturday evening, my spouse and I were hoping to foster agape by opening our home to old friends and acquaintances whom we have wanted to know better. What better way than with a potluck? By all accounts, everyone was fed, literally and spiritually, drawn closer, and were looking toward our next opportunity to get together.