Philadelphia is the “City of Brotherly Love”.  Few realize that there was a city in Asia Minor with the same name at the time of the Romans.  Yup – the name is that old.

Philia is a Greek word that means love between friends.  It can be also rendered in English as phileo.  In modern English, where straight people are worried about sounding gay, they shy away from the word love and we use words like BFF.  BFF=philia.

This is precisely what Christ meant, though, when He told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  No matter how absolutely despicable we think they may be, He told us to love them.

But people will always find a reason to not love someone.  Maybe it’s the slowpoke on the road in front of us.  Could it be that the family down the street has bikes outside their front door?  Maybe there’s a handicap.

This is, sadly, where I need the most help.  I’ve heard it’s rude to stare at people or make a big deal of a handicap.  Therefore, I don’t want to appear rude and avoid people who are different from me.  It makes me uncomfortable.

But I feel perfectly comfortable walking into a prison as a chaplain or volunteer.  I feel perfectly comfortable reaching out to that “different” person at church.  I feel perfectly comfortable chatting it up with someone I’ve come to know.  Why?

In those situations I am empowered by title or familiarity.

Through Christ, we are all empowered to address those around us in His name.  We don’t have to verbally invoke His name, but act as if we had.  In turn we make others comfortable around us.  The guy covered with scars from a car wreck.  The woman whose body is deformed from palsy.  The next-door neighbor who won’t even look at you on the street.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Little children, love one another.


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