This for That
Off the Wall, Dec
19, 2013

It really isn’t hard when one thinks of the following saying – “The sum of its parts equals the whole,” yet, if one wishes to make it so, that’s his privilege, I guess.

We can thus state, “One” part, plus “one” part, plus “one” part equals one. Using an equation of sorts, 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Only through the use of this saying can this be understood. In other words, the last number is the total of all parts put together and can never be described as anything less.

Theologically, the parts may be understood as God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit equals One, the total sum of the Trinity, Three in One.

Let’s revert back to God, a part of the Three Persons in One. The equation now reads: 1=1+1+1. He created “philia” plus “eros,” plus “agape.” The one love that was omitted was “storge.” In common terms, this is family love, kinship and familiarity, also one word with three definitions.

“Philia” is often referred to as brotherly love. Referencing the Holy Scriptures, we find it written in Romans 12:10, “Love one another with multiple affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” Through it, one may develop a love among others, particularly those who may share common interests or activities.

Some examples that will bring the subject home are the following: Mark has a positive feeling of liking toward his girlfriend. Sarah had trouble expressing the feelings she had. Little Dominic won everyone’s heart.

However, “philia” has its negative side, as well. According to www.sjchurchofchrist.org., “Although “philia” is wonderful, it, too, is not reliable since it is also held captive by the sifting sands of a situation as well as by ours and other’s perceptions and expectations. Unfortunately, we probably all know of a friendship which waned or was severed because of time, distance, harsh words, how someone interpreted another’s actions, etc.”

The next part of equation is “eros.” Easily understood, when Rick gazed at Toni, three words were going through his mind – “I’m in love…” This type of love covers everything from queasy stomachs and warm fuzzy feelings to a strong sensual passion.

According to the mentioned website, there are a couple of very interesting characteristics about “eros.” “First, in order to exist, ‘eros’ is dependent upon the situation and circumstances. As long as a couple is enjoying a romantic situation, it can thrive. But, as soon as hurtful words or actions appear, ‘eros’ simply evaporates.”

In addition, “’eros’ is also held captive to each person’s perception. For example, if someone perceivesa particular quiet evening dinner with candles to be romantic, ‘eros’ will thrive. However, passion becomes squashed for someone whenever he or she interprets the current situation to be undesirable. ‘Eros’ thus grows strong and then wastes away based upon perceptions.”

In talking about “agape,” the third part of the equation, Peter Kreeft, stated, “‘Agape’ is the fulfillment of the law, because it does not insist on its own way, but on God’s way.” He goes on to say, “’Agape’ is the catalyst that creates value. It’s what makes a child’s hand-drawn birthday card infinitely more precious than the grudging gift of a million dollars.”

It was through the ministry of Jesus we came to know about God’s unconditional love for us all. I feel safe to say, most of us would have never known about “agape” love had it not been through this miraculous birth we celebrate this time of the year. It’s fact, most of us cannot imagine beyond our human ways of thinking.

Ever since we were children, we were raised with the equation of creating a stimulus to yield a response, exchanging this for that, or trading money for products. All had conditions attached. Don’t we do the same for our mates, expecting infinite togetherness? What must have those people thought when Christ first walked the earth spelling out His Father’s love? Yet people today still walk the other way.

Finally, Kreeft sums up the subject of “agape” love by stating, “Faith is the necessary beginning of Christian life, but ‘agape’ is its essence and its consummation (completion). Faith exists for the sake of ‘agape,’ the beginning for the sake of the end.”

The sum of its parts always results in one conclusion. May you imitate God, know that He loves you infinitely and create a stronger bond daily.

May you all have a very blessed Christmas.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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