A fundamental need in every person is to love and to be loved. Feeling affirmed and valued is included in this basic need as well. We feel affirmation and value by being seen and heard. When we don’t perceive that we are loved, seen or heard we either try harder or ‘act out’ to make it happen, or we give up saying it doesn’t matter. If we believe that it doesn’t matter, we lose hope and feel devalued as a person. To lose hope is to lose connection with others (especially those we love and value). This directly influences our level of trust, confidence, self-worth and consequently, our joy. Loneliness, hopelessness, depression, and disconnection results from a lack of feeling loved, seen, heard, and to love in return. It’s no wonder that mental health issues run rampant in this fallen world.
Much of what the world calls love (outside of God’s love and parental love) is an immature love stemming from our fickle and fallen emotions, and can be selfish and subjective. It’s often about negotiations and keeping track. I’ll do this for you if you do that for me, I’m disappointed in you so you don’t deserve my love, I feel rejected by you so I will hold back…and the list goes on.
There are 4 main kinds of love that are explained in scripture (but more are mentioned and are derivatives of these main 4): Storge, Philia, and Eros, and Agape.
Storge is the empathy kind of love.
Philia is the friendship kind of love.
Eros is the romantic kind of love.
Agape is the God kind of love—unconditional love.
Most of us have figured out the storge, philia, and eros kinds of love, to which God is the author of as well. What we misunderstand is His agape love—the main kind of love God is and has for us. To love like God loves, we need to know Him—the source of love. Fallen mankind is incapable of loving with agape love. The closest thing to it is parental love. I used to think I loved, but in reality I didn’t know how to love until I found (and reconnected to) God. God loves us as the perfect Father that He is. Some of you who are parents know that unconditional love—a love so strong that you would literally die for your children. And God did die for us by sending Jesus (who was God incarnate).
Knowing the heart of God and responding to His agape love for us is our deepest desire. Finding the reality of God’s love is the only thing that can bring true satisfaction in our lives. We can only begin to understand this kind of love by knowing the Giver of it—thus, knowing God is our primary need in this life, for God is love (agape) – 1 John 4:8.
God’s love—agape—is defined in the New Testament (Greek) as; affection, good will, and benevolence. The apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit these words to describe God’s agape love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–8:
“Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never give up. Love never stops loving.” (The Passion Translation)
We are on our earth’s journey to learn to love. We are not capable of loving like God loves without knowing Him–the Author of love. We find God by surrendering to Him so that He can fill us with His unconditional and unreserved love. He does not demand anything in return but we only receive His free gift of eternal life/salvation.
It is God who created us to love and to be loved. When we accept Jesus, our spirits are reconnected back to God. Our true identity is that we belong to God and He loves us just as much as He loves Jesus. We have become One in spirit with Him. God’s unconditional love for us is always on, always accepting, always affirms and values. He sees us and hears our hearts and our thoughts. Every person matters immensely to God. He never takes his eyes off of us, for we are the apple of His eye. He never leaves us or rejects us, He is the lover of our souls. He would never want to see anyone perish, but all come to repentance and salvation.
Jesus died in our place, for us, as us, to remove our terminal fallen condition and eternal separation from Him. We don’t have to ‘make anything happen’, but to just receive His all consuming love in the person of Jesus Christ. We are then sealed with the Holy Spirit for eternity. Our hope and joy can soar above every obstacle we face in this life because He already overcame hell and the grave. God’s love and our value, confidence, and trust in God is realized as we walk in the truth of who we are—God’s beloved children and One in Christ.
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