Considering how foundational relationships are in both the old and new creations, perhaps we could take a closer look, particularly at how they operate, and where they come from. We need to look at relationships as a fact of life, as well as a supply of life. Of course, in Christ this is not a matter of the flesh, or the will of man. – John 1:13.
A few years ago now, and a little downstream of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, storge love was brought to my attention. Storge is in the Scriptures along with agape, and phileo. The third Greek love is “eros,” but it’s not in the Bible. The fourth love, storge had escaped my notice. Not even Lewis cited any Biblical reference. (There are three references in the Scripture.) Two are negative, and included in lists of things that were already bad, and bound to get worse as time went on, Romans 1:31, and 2 Timothy 3:3. We could conclude that things are not good when storge is absent. The other reference is positive, Romans 12:10. It is perhaps best translated as natural affection.
Storge is the “good news” of the old creation. It is best seen and appreciated in the love of a parent, (most often a mother) for a new offspring. I say “offspring,” because storge operates in birds and animals as much as in humans.
Let’s take a look from a human perspective. Old creation Life is awakened in the context of storge. Before there is any capacity for human decision about relationship a newborn is attached to its mother as a matter of necessity, as a matter of life and death, as yet without any knowledge of either. On the child’s part the attachment is built into its desperate need. On the mother’s part, the attachment is the result of storge love. The newborn knows nothing of love – has no understanding of why the mother is willing to supply both the life and the supply of life. Between the two, the child takes the breast, and the mother’s milk comes in.
So it is in the new creation. “We love, because He first loved us,” and “This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” As with life in the old, so it is with life in the new. It takes time to come into some understanding of this kind of love. This love, storge love, supercharged by agape is at the very genesis of our life in the new creation, just as it is in our new life in the old creation. Understanding comes later – much later.
Storge is the first experience that new life has of being valued. Of the four loves, storge, phileo, “eros,” and agape, agape is the spinal column of the other three. The natural loves, storge, phileo, and “eros” are fallen, just as natural man is fallen, and without agape, as redefined at the cross, they are spineless. As soon as something goes wrong, the natural loves are withdrawn. Only in agape are they redeemed and made unoffendable.
We not only love because He first loved us, we live because He first loved us. This is true in both creations. We attach where we are valued. Agape alone has no expression. At the point of expression – at the point of being sensible by one or more of the five senses, it comes to us aesthetically wrapped in one of these other loves. These other loves are the point of contact, the point at which agape becomes palpable. We can talk about agape all day long – the Church has been talking about it for almost two thousand years, but until agape is both present and felt, it is just a disembodied concept. It is at the point of expression, the point of contact or “attachment” that agape empowers its object.
Now let’s look at love as an impartation of value. Not only do “we love because he first loved us,” but in the same breath we might as well say, “we value because we have first been valued.”
Storge is imparted by look and touch and tone. Unless something goes terribly wrong, the value of the child in the look, touch and tone of the mother is clear to anyone of normal healthy sensibility. This impartation of value is the validation required for healthy life function. In the first instance it is the supply of parents, as the child matures it can receive validation in other relational attachments as well.
Jesus imparts value to us from the cross. Without this sense of value we have nothing to offer others. We are desperate or desolate, as the case me be. We are relational beggars, more bankrupt even than relational merchants. In either case we are not lovers, for we have no love to offer. Relationships that do not know the cross are checks that our bodies can’t cash.
As “leaders,” do we value others? Where does that value come from? How do they know we value them? Do we insist on doing all the talking or do we also listen? Does our valuation of others suffer from hidden agendas? Perhaps these questions might, for the present supply some food for thought. This sense of value is an invitation to transact Jesus with each other. The authentic release of God’s Spirit is best expressed in our being kindly affectionate to one another.
Perhaps in the not too distant future we can discuss two other foundational subjects, which continue as the “staff of life” on my plate – the first, which came before the discovery of storge, and the other that came only recently.
The first is the importance of Romans 1:18-20. Here we find a very important crosscheck on our understanding of the written Word of God. In fact, it turns out that the written Word, and the Created things are CROSS-checks on one another. (See: “Front and Rear Sights”)
The second of the two has to do with attachment. Attachment is the stuff that, in one word picture, holds the body parts together. Without Attachment there is no body function.
I hope to touch on that in my next post.
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