The word ‘love’ means different things to different people, and the title of this article would suggest there is a certain sort of love that can be identified as ‘Christian Love’.
I believe this to be true. Before Christ came to the world and demonstrated His love by dying on the cross to redeem a people for Himself (Romans 5:8), no one had ‘personally’ known His love for them. The disciples were to experience it firsthand, and others would through their teaching. (John 17:20)
God is love (1 John 4:7, 8). He is the perfect giver of His love. There is no other love like His. It is a love that brings a loving response from those He loves. They respond to His Son’s love by obeying Him (John 14:21), and they dearly love Him. Because of His love they will always try to please Him.
As a Christian walks in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) he rejoices, because he knows he is not of the flesh (Ephesians 2:11), for those of the flesh are under the control of the prince of ‘the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience’ (Ephesians 2:2). This prince is ‘the ruler of this world who will be cast out,’ i.e., satan. (John 12:31) There is no love in him (Revelation 12:9). He will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Essentially, Christ’s love for His people is completely selfless. He gave Himself totally for them, and took upon Himself the punishment due to them for their sins. He was a sacrificial substitute acceptable to His Father as an atonement (1 John 4:9, 10). This selfless love that asks for nothing in return is what the Bible describes as agape love (1 John 4:7). God has this same sort of love for His own Son (John 17:26) and for all human beings (John 3:16; Romans 5:8) irrespective of their individual natures.
Agape love is the sort of love Christians should have, a love not only for God and other Christians, but for everybody, including enemies. By loving in this way they confirm they are ‘sons of the Most High’. (Luke 6:35)
A major objective for a Christian is to lavish agape love upon all: good and bad, rich and poor, men and women, boys and girls.
The Bible speaks of another sort of love, which in the Greek of the New Testament is phileo. It is perhaps best described as, tender affection, having care and concern, as one has for friends, and a sharing together in harmony.
God has this love for His Son, “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does …….” (John 5:20); also, ‘The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand’ (John 3:35). The apostle John said Jesus loved him in this way: ‘Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved’ (John 13:23). John was a very self-effacing man; therefore he never mentioned his own name in his gospel.
Paul, when he penned a letter to Titus, used this same Greek word for the love of Jesus toward those He saves: ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by the works of righteousness we have done, but according to His mercy …… etc.’ (Titus 3:4)
Christians in their endeavour to imitate Christ want to be loving as He is. Their desire is for others to experience His love, and through their actions and words they wish to love all with whom they come into contact. (Romans 15:2; Galatians 6:10) They are motivated by the command of Jesus to love one another. (John 13:34; 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10)
Christian love is distinctive from any other kind of love, because of the motivations and driving force behind it, and because the Holy Spirit provides the power for the giving of this love. (Romans 15:13, 19; 1 Corinthians 2:4)
‘And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Corinthians 13:13)