I just finished reading C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves, which includes Affection (storge), Friendship (philia), Romantic (eros), and Charity (agape). Lewis says Friendship love is the most spiritual of all the loves. It is also the one love that is least written about. Why? Because you can’t live without Affection, Eros or Agape, but you can live without friendship. There is a mercy in Friendship love that is unique.
Friendship love is the least demanding of all the love. In Eros and Agape, there is a duty to love, but in Friendship love, you can act with love simply because you want to. You can know someone for 40 years and yet, they never become a friend. You can know someone for 5 minutes and they will always be your friend. Someone becomes a friend not because they have to, but because they want to. In other words, we choose to make someone a friend.
In Eros and Agape, there is usually a likeness between two people. But in friendship love, there is often no likeness. It is a mystery why a Ph.D. scholar and homeless person become friends, or an athlete and a glutton. There is no rhyme or reason why two people become friends other than they choose it. That is why there is a mercy in Friendship love that is not in any other love. Jesus chooses to call us friends, and that is pure mercy.
When we suffer, we often feel alone. But there is a fellowship friendship among those who suffer. When a person suffers, they can choose to be friends with another person or persons who suffer. Thus, they are not alone, and their suffering becomes the building material of the bridge of their friendship.
Friendship love is the most merciful of the four loves because it is the least demanding of the love. When we have Friendship love, we care – not because we have to but because we want to. In suffering, there is great friendship. This is why Jesus’ death on the cross is the place where he calls and chooses us, proving his friendship to us.