Throughout the generations, human beings have come to describe love in various ways. As Christians, we find its embodiment in God and that often contrasts with the many definitions described by man over the generations.

One thing is clear: not all love is created equal. What do I mean? I mean that there are different types of love. We even see Jesus Christ in the New Testament making this clear when He asked whether Peter loved Him. English often just says love but the Greek uses different words, indicating different types. In fact, in the Greek in Christ’s time there were 4 known types: Eros, Phileo, Agape, and Storge.

Eros – erotic/sensual/intimate love, idealistic – of the body – the kind between a husband and wife.

Phileo – described as brotherly – of the soul – it is specific to bonds shared with others. This can be between individuals within the family or friends. Christ had this toward His disciples.

Agape – parental, mature, sacrificial – of the other – this is the sort that would lead one to put themselves into harms way in order to protect the one they love. Most clearly seen in the works of Christ and on the cross.

Storge – dutiful – of community and family – it is a loyalty that can sometimes seem unfeeling. This love, though described in the Greek, wasn’t truly given a place from Christ’s angle. In fact, you typically only see the first 3 used in Scripture with particular emphasis on Phileo and Agape.

It is important to note that the relationships we have with others will often incorporate more than 1 type of love. For example, Phileo and Agape could be easily mixed and in the case of family, even eros too. Regardless, Scripture clearly emphasizes Agape. As Christians, we are called to “die to self” which would even hamper phileo love. Phileo may not sound bad but, unlike agape, it does have a centered-ness toward one’s self in the relationship which can easily lead down the wrong path if not careful.

I bring these types of love up because American culture today, while it realizes there is different types of love, often ignores the distinctions between the types and instead tries to either lump them all together or somehow make eros the pinnacle of a progression. This has lead to all sorts of ideas of love that have lead people down various wrong courses of action in the name of “love”.

Wherever we find ourselves in life, we must remember that we have access to the true source and definition of love in Jesus Christ, the God made flesh. We must turn to Him and His word if we are to know love and to act out our love correctly.

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Christmas or Christ mass (as the name comes from Roman Catholicism) is a widely observed holiday by Christians and non-Christians alike, albeit not always in the same way.

The term Xmas refers to the Christian holiday and should not be confused as a way to remove Christ from Christmas as the X is there to represent Christ. The English language X is the closest transliteration of the character in Greek used for the first letter of the name of Christ, Christos. Even with that knowledge in mind, I have to admit I personally prefer to see “Christ” in the name for the holiday as in our language it leaves no doubts for the reader who does not know this.

Moving forward – for celebraters of Christmas, the real reason for the season is in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who would go on later in life to die and bring salvation to those who put their faith in Him. This event was a miracle in itself as God became incarnate through a virgin woman. That sentence alone is packed with enough material to right several books and worth our meditation!

Since His birth, many traditions and practices have been born among man to celebrate this time of year (as well as those that predate the Christian holiday – from other beliefs). Regardless of the traditions we hold to at this time, we must remember that Christmas is ultimately about the birth of Christ and we should be careful to not allow our practices at this time to make us forget this fact. So, get together, exchange presents, and go about your typical Christmas practices. Just always remember that it is Christ who is at the center of the Christmas holiday and let that guide you in what do (or don’t do).