Strength Of Love
By Martin Luther King
The meaning of love is not to be confused with some sentimental outpouring.
Love is something much more than emotional bosh.
Perhaps the Greek language can clear our confusion at this point.
In the Greek New Testament there are three words for love:
The word eros is a sort of aesthetic or romantic love [actually I consider it erotic, passionate love].
In the Platonic dialogues eros is a yearning of the soul for the realm of the divine.
The second word is philia, a reciprocal love and the intimate affection and friendship between friends.
We love those whom we like, and we love because we are loved.
The third word is agape, understanding and creative, redemptive goodwill for all men.
[I consider it long-term,forgiving.] An overflowing love which seeks nothing in return,
agape is the love of God operating in the human heart. At this level, we love men not because we like them,
nor because their ways appeal to us, nor evenbecause they possess some type of divine spark;
we love every man because God loves him. At this level, we love the person who does an evil deed,
although we hate the deed that he does.
[I think romantic love is a combination of Eros, Philia & Agape.]
Now we can see what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.”
We should be happy that he did not say, “Like your enemies.” It is almost impossible to like some people.
“Like” is a sentimental and affectionate word.
How can we be affectionate toward a person whose avowed aim is to crush our very being and place innumerable stumbling blocks in our path?
How can we like a person who is threatening our children andbombing our homes?
That is impossible. But Jesus recognized that love is greater than like.
When Jesus bids us to love our enemies, he is speaking neither of eros nor philia;
he is speaking of agape, understanding and creative, redemptive goodwill for all men.
Only by following this way and responding with this type of love are we able to be children of our Father who is in heaven.
— Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981. p. 52.
“We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . .
I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”
Martin Luther King Jr.