What do these three words really mean? I went to two sources to find out the answers – Dictionary.com for the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “Authentic Community” (by Jim Van Yperen) for the word “love.”
1. inspiring, an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe: “an awesome sight.”
2. showing or characterized by reverence, admiration, or fear; exhibiting or marked by awe.
3. Slang: very impressive: “That new white convertible is totally awesome.”
1. having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: “a passionate advocate of socialism.”
2. easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.
3. expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: “passionate language.”
4. intense or vehement, as emotions or feelings: “passionate grief.”
5. easily moved to anger; quick-tempered; irascible.
LOVE: (noun: “God’s love is everlasting” and verb: “God loves you”)
The three words used for “love” in the Greek language are:
1. “Eros” is a kind of self-love.
2. “Philea” is friendship.
3. “Agape” is generous, self-sacrificing love.
As you can see, the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “love” are way overused and sometimes misused. A person can “love” another person and also “love” a car. In Jim Van Yperen’s book, “Authentic Community” (p. 11), he says this about “love”: “In Scripture, believers are called to put away ‘eros’ and put on ‘philea’ and ‘agape’ love by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ command to love one another is ‘agape’ love. We are called to love one another in the same way God has loved us – with generous, self-sacrificing love.”
“A new command I give you: [Agape] Love one another. As I have [generously and sacrificially] loved you, so you must [agape] love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you [agape] love one another” (John 13:34-35).
How did Jesus “generously and self-sacrificially” love us?
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His Own [agape] love for us is this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Jesus demonstrated His [agape] love for us by paying the ultimate price for our sins. Jesus loved us extravagantly, even before we loved Him, by dying on the cross, in order for us to be “justified through faith” and “have peace with God” (see Romans 5:1), with ourselves and with one another. Jesus calls us to the same [agape] love for one another. This cannot be done on our own strength, “but because God has poured out His [agape] love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us (see Romans 5:5b).
Since the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “love” are often misused and misconstrued in today’s English language, I think I will rename my blog post to: “Awe-Inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-like, Extravagant Love.” This is the kind of [agape] love Jesus wants His believers to have for one another and for the all the world to see and want for themselves.
May the Peace and Joy of Christ fill us with His AGAPE Love!