The Greek word for love is Eros. It has the same meaning as the English word love. It denotes the kind of love that responds to beauty and harmony. Eros loves those who deserve its affection. It strives towards the highest and best, and everything which doesn’t match its standards fall short of its devotion. This love is repulsed by what it find ugly and of less quality.
Eros is driven by this desire to fulfill its own cravings and to own the objects of its love. It enjoys the hunt and finds it thrilling to conquer, and it reduces what it desires to mere objects or things to possess. To contrast and compare and come out at the top makes Eros the kind of love that the Pharisees displayed when they were basking in the affirmation from their peers.
Eros thinks that if religious duties are well performed it will earn God’s favor. Its worth is based on its accomplishments and it cannot fathom that God will stretch out His hand to tax-collectors, prostitutes, thieves and homosexuals. Eros likes to boast of its beauty and that it is blessed because of its good deeds. This kind of love is on shaky ground, because whenever it witnesses God’s kindness towards those it consider unworthy its system of values is challenged and its response is often religious anger.
Agape is a Greek word that seldom was used in the days the New Testament was written. It was a word with a rather general meaning, but it was this word the Holy Spirit exclusively used in the New Testament and gave it His own meaning and definition. Agape arises spontaneously from the heart of God, and it loves both the ugly and the unworthy. Agape shows no partiality. It loves unconditionally both the prodigal son and the self-righteous son.
Agape seeks out that what is in disharmony with God. It even embraces its enemies, those who would like to see it dead. This is the kind of love who loves the spiritual unattractive. It isn’t awakened by religious deeds or good works. Because God is love agape originates in who He is, not in us being lovable. So His love seeks us out with compassion and with no strings attached. Its highest desire is to see the objects of its love liberated and set in freedom. It asks of nothing in return and it finds its fulfillment in those who humbly receives it with gratitude because they have nothing to offer.
Agape stirs the depths of the hearts of those who recognize it and welcome it. This is the kind of love that turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Agape can never be deserved so those who trust in its Source are standing on firm ground. Agape is scandalous in its affections and thus rejected by the religious minded who thinks in terms of Eros. There are a couple of other properties which we can attribute to Agape that are almost outrageous; it never feels ashamed over its recipients and it never turns its head in disgust when they fail miserably.
You and I are the objects of Agape!