The most fully human love is brotherly (or sisterly) love; the Greeks called this Philia. It is not a sexual love, although it could become such. But more important, is a love shared by two people who have close ties, a close friendship. It could begin with two boys building sandcastles at the shore, (I remain forever a New Jerseyan; I cannot call it the beach!), or two girls playing with dolls.
My wife is fortunate to have such a relationship with a friend from before kindergarten. Now, seventy-three years later, they still talk on the phone. Theirs is a shared love that has lasted through the test of time and turmoil. I am so pleased and a little jealous that she enjoys this friendship. I am not privy to it, but I am sure that they still tell secrets they do not share with their husbands. This is true Philia, true everlasting love.
This is spiritual love; this is a love that lasts forever! This is the Love taught and preached by Jesus. It is the Love of Grace, patience, and charitable deeds. It is also the promise of “love thy neighbor.” Jesus taught us how to live a life of love. He held nothing back about the worth of people. When we have that special spiritual friend, we understand what Jesus taught. I have learned what and how Jesus taught the more difficult way; I never had that spiritual friend. I was too timid, too private a person to open myself to another person.
I am fortunate to finally understand how precious this is. This is not a common love; it is held special by God for special people. My love of God and all that God means for us has opened me to a ministry of love that allows me at least understanding and knowledge. I share this ministry with all. I am so happy when I see people sharing their spiritual friendship, their Philia. Praise God for Love.
©Russell Kendall Carter