This week’s prompt: What is love of friendship? What is love? But specifically within a friendship. You can talk about it in any way you would like!
Love OF friendship, or love IN a friendship? Oh that “love” word that we throw around so easily. Allow me to get a little Greek on you.
The Greeks had three main words they used to describe different types of love: eros, philia, and agape. Eros is where we get the word erotic from and refers to passionate, all consuming, “marital embrace” type love. Philia refers to brotherly love (also where we get the city Philadelphia from, meaning brotherly love), that type of love we have for our deepest and closest friends. Agape refers to unconditional, unmerited, unending love, and where this blog gets its name, because we are all worthy of Agape type love.
That being said, I think the heart of this prompt is aimed at philia type love, what does that kind of love look like, and perhaps, how is philia different than agape?
What does philia love look like?
Friendship love is the love we are called to have for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ (read: everyone on the face of the planet). Our friends, especially our closest and most trusted friends, are the one who will have our back through thick and thin. But, they are also the people who can call us out when we are straying from the path of holiness and virtue. I think that Jesus explains the meaning of brotherly love better than I when He tells His disciples:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” – Matthew 18:15-19
In our world of “make everyone feel great about whatever they want to feel great about” and “if it feels good, do it” we are slow to tell each other our faults. We are even slower to correct faults when we see them in another, but that is what true friendship is about, loving each other enough to help each other out and not simply blow sunshine up each other’s butts.
How is philia different than agape?
In terms of the Greeks, the loves were very difficult to separate. Much like we say that we love pizza and we love our significant others, love is a hard thing to clearly delineate. Of course, the way we love pizza is different than the way we love our significant others, but they are all a type of love. I think that philia helps move us toward agape – that type of love that Christ gives us and invites and commands us to show to everyone. When we can start with philia and love and charitably correct our brothers and sisters, we begin to love them as Christ does and show them His love. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that one love is better than the other because we need them all, but they certainly feed into each other. As with all true loves, they point us to Christ, the source of love and our source of life. We need philia in our lives because that is one of the ways that Christ loves us, by having our back, but also by correcting us when we go astray.
What do you think the love of friendship looks like?