Of course, the selection was considerably limited by today’s standards. We only had four VHF channels - our local ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS affiliates - plus two UHF channels that broadcasted mostly reruns and/or old movies in black and white.
Though the shows changed from time to time, my own Friday night line-up consisted of “The Partridge Family”, “Room 222”, “That Girl”, and “The Odd Couple”. (Until, that is, “The Six Million Dollar Man” debuted… And then all bets were off for me as a typical red-blooded American boy who looked up to heroes!)
In any event, Friday evenings were usually rounded out with a program called “Love American Style”. This last program was an anthology comedy series consisting of a rather silly collection of short vignettes displaying couples in various stages of romantic relationships, usually with a comedic spin.
It is perhaps best remembered for the lyrics to its theme song… “Love, American Style, Truer than the Red, White and Blue. Love, American Style, That's me and you.”
I share these somewhat meandering thoughts with you on this day after Valentine’s Day because love is the air at this time of year. And well it should be; for love really is an essential component of life in this world. But with so much “to-do” about love, the question is begged: “What is love?”
Long ago, Hollywood reminded us that “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”. But then Hollywood, and television in turn, along with the able assistance of Madison Avenue, went on to portray love almost exclusively in a romantic sense involving feelings of strong attraction and emotional attachment toward members of the opposite sex.
Of course, while this is certainly one expression of love, it is in no way the sum total of love. As I have explained in previous posts (cf. THE POWER OF PARENTAL INFLUENCE 5/12/2014 and HOW DO I LOVE THEE? 2/15/2016), famed author C. S. Lewis reminds us that the ancient Greeks had four separate words for love in the world of the New Testament. In short, these included:
1. “Philia”, or love between friends;
2. “Eros”, or love between a man and a woman;
3. “Storge” or the love between a parent and a child; and
4. “Agape”, or the love between God and mankind.
While all of these have their proper time and place for expression, those who follow Jesus Christ understand that “Agape” is the one type of love that supersedes all others. Lewis defines “Agape” (Latin: “Charitas”) as “seeking the highest good for the recipient”. For this reason, true love is more about giving than receiving. More than this, true love is about giving sacrificially.
And these things are what set “Agape” apart from and make it superior to the other three types of love. In effect, the first three types of love are natural. But the love God calls us to practice surpasses natural matters and encompasses supernatural or Heavenly qualities.
This is why, of the 313 occurrences of the word “love” in the New Testament, 259 of these (or over four out of every five times) represent a translation of the Greek word “Agape”. And this is also the term for love used whenever the Bible talks about how much God loves us. As well as for how we should then love one another.
In effect, therefore, Christians are called to practice LOVE, HEAVEN STYLE! That is to say, we reflect what God has done for us in how we deal with others. We love them by seeking their highest good at all costs! And we do this with the understanding that we will invariably be expected at some point to make some form of sacrifice on their behalf in order to demonstrate our love to them.
I leave you with the words of Jesus (in the New Testament Gospel of Mark (chapter 12, verses 30-31): 30‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’f 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’g There is no commandment greater than these.”
SOURCE: As noted in previous blogs, C. S. Lewis’ masterful book, The Four Loves, is a classic available at Christian bookstores nationwide and/or online from most any notable bookseller. First published in 1960, it was based on a set of radio talks from 1958.
SEE ALSO: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/CS_Lewis_on_Love.