Today we will look at the second kind of love called “phileo.” This category includes emotional warmth and tender affection toward a friend or family member. It involves closeness, bonding, and mutual sharing in a relationship. It is companionship, or brotherly love.
Many few people today think friendship is of comparable value to the other loves or even a love at all. For example the love between Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet are well celebrated, but very rare do you read a book or see a film about friendship like that of Jonathan and David.
We need to be careful not to confuse the sort of acquaintances which we often describe as ‘friendship’, as phileo is speaking here about a very special kind of friendship. Many of us have a large number of ‘friends’, while keeping a rather small number of ‘close friends’, those we have phileo for.
Jesus displayed this Christian love toward Lazarus, as observed, “Lord, behold, he whom You love (phileo) is sick” (John 11:3). In addition, John also wrote of this relationship, “Now Jesus loved (agape) Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” John 11:5).
In a marriage relationship, the dominant fire of eros (we will consider in 2 days) gradually gives ground to the mature phileo of affection. Phileo becomes the cement that bonds and holds families together over the long haul.
Phileo is one of the least natural of loves, and the least instinctive, biological or necessary. Without ‘Eros’ it is unlikely that many of us would have been born. Without ‘storge’ (affection) none of us would have been reared, but we can live and breed without friendship.
Here we see something amazing about phileo, unlike eros it doesn’t commerce with our nerves, there is nothing that quickens the pulse, turns us red or pale, puts butterflies in our stomach. Friendship is as C.S. Lewis put it ‘that luminous, tranquil, rational world of relationships freely chosen.’ This agrees with the moto ‘friends are the family we chose for ourselves’,
So this is quite amazing, phileo is not a survival love, but is a gift from God for us. It is his will that we have friends and more so a friendship with Himself. John also reveals that God displays friendship love (phileo) toward us, and believers toward Jesus ‘No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God’ (John 16:27).
It is simply amazing that we can experience this kind of friendship with God. If you want to know how you can become a friend of God, please send me a message through the contact page and I’d love to help you and pray with you. Tomorrow we will look at what the bible teaches about friendship.