Redefining Love and Peter’s Reinstatement
Often times in today’s swirling world, we, especially teenage couples, use the phrase “I love you” after being in a relationship for only two days. Feelings are hardly the same after the break up, and both parties deny the good side of the other, focusing only on the person’s negative aspects. Commonly, people use ‘hate’ is when that person’s name is mentioned instead of ‘I disagree with___’ or ‘ I misunderstand___’. We as humans disregard one another to the point that we misplace love, often redirecting it toward inanimate objects, such as German chocolate cake. You can’t actually love cake, yet people say that they love it. We trivialize the word often.
Love. It is a word that carries (or should carry) so much weight, but it is often overused. How can we have so much meaning added to this word, yet there is only one conjugation of this word in English? The Ancient Greeks came up with at least four of these conjugations, two of which define the very core of love in the world. One conjugation of this word, Philia (pronounced Fill-eh-oh) love is brotherly in nature. Often, this is conditional in nature and is purely human. It is not always negative, but can accompany of humanity’s more questionable motives. Agape (pronounced ah-GAAP-peh) is the ultimate form of love, with no conditions attached to it, and theologians often muse that this is God’s Holy Love. It is pure, determined, honest, good, gracious, forgiving, just, true love.
Thus, this Love stands as the Christian’s most distinguished and valuable characteristic. Jesus, in John 21:15-17, moves to reinstate Peter to his Apostleship, asking him three times if he loves him. Peter answers him in the English translation the same way three times (“Yes Lord, you know that I love you”), but in the Greek translation, Peter answers: “Yes Lord, you know that I Philia you”, describing his conditional, yet brotherly response to Jesus. Jesus, however, wanted the best out of his Apostle, and wanted to be sure he could count on him. He asks again, and Peter, though hurt, changes his response to “Yes Lord, you know that I agape you”. Unconditional Love needed to be the tool to spread the Great Commission then, and still needs to be now, even in today’s crazy world. We cannot achieve our mission without it.
Just as Peter needed reinstatement, we must be reinstated in our commitment to loving one another fully in an agape manner. Without love, this world will not have peace, honorable leaders, good, innovative products, or stable marriages and households. Jesus knew that we must have this agape love to restore our society. Our parents show this towards us since consistently; why is it that we cannot show agape towards others? Indeed like young, new teenage couples, we often misunderstand what we do. Let us change that today. Let us strive toward reinstating the real love we have for one another, and the love that God has for us. Agape one other today while the sun still shines on it.