"Storge", a natural development, expresses the love within a family, parents toward children, children to parents and siblings. It is a developed form of love for a couple that establishes a family, in addition to eros, as a couple's relationship develops. It's satisfying under most circumstances, and a natural form of external consideration. It too can bring sadness and pain, when difficulty or loss develops.
"Phileo", a natural developing form of love, expresses the attachment, devotion, trust and caring that develops among acquaintances and friends. It develops as both a form of inner and external consideration, as dependencies, admirations, emotional support, and concern for one another appear. This becomes an additional form of love enjoyed by couples already experiencing eros, and by family members held together by storge. Usually satisfying, it too can bring sadness and pain in cases of loss, difficulties and betrayals.
"Agape", the higher form of love, expresses the relationship between all of creation. It expresses man's love of God, God's love for man, any creation of God, and a relationship of stranger toward stranger. It demonstrates a respect and consideration of all things. This is the form of love that does not develop as naturally as others, but requires cultivation. It is a form of love that does not seek inner consideration, but demands external consideration always. There is nothing selfish in it, no demands, only giving. It too can become a form of love shared by those already sharing eros, storge, and phileo. It is satisfying in that we all enjoy the benefits, but it can leave you exposed and vulnerable. Regardless of the vulnerability, it is the highest form of love, and the most rewarding. Society cannot function without it, and for those that can see purpose, the universe itself is dependent upon it. It is that form of love that allows one to sacrifice everything, including one's life, with expectation of no reward.
One of the primary lessons that Christ attempted to teach was the importance of developing agape, a love different from what was understood. He too knew that words were not sufficient to explain or express all that agape was. He knew people could listen to the words and still not understand the significance of the meaning. An example is a dialog between him and Simon Peter. Being a great teacher, he knew that just speaking the words did not convey the meaning. Christ asked Peter "do you love (agape) me?" Peter answered, thinking he would emphasize his love, "I love (phileo) you". Again Christ asked Peter "do you love (agape) me?" Again Peter answered " I love (phileo) you". Words, if only used straight, without objective, takes you only so far in making a point. Sometimes, what is said is not the meaning, but the effect of what is said is the objective. Christ asked again, but instead said, "Peter, do you love (phileo) me?" Peter, noting that Christ used the word phileo instead of agape, was cut deep as he felt the full emphasis of the lesson Christ wanted to teach. The love he demanded was a different form of love. The higher form of love he wanted to teach was the one for which he used the Greek word "agape". Agape is only slightly related to the word love we see in use on a daily basis.
That even those that were followers of Christ, learning directly from his teachings found his lessons difficult is demonstrated by the actions of Peter, later at the arrest of Christ. According to the story, Peter, in defense of his friend, used a sword against one of the servants to cut off an ear. Peter demonstrated phileo, in attempting to protect his friend. Christ admonished Peter, and in an act of agape, healed the ear. Words didn't effectively serve to build agape, even the lessons didn't. Agape, the real love is not simply a conscious decision, but requires a diligent effort and constant practice. Words alone will never be sufficient to teach or express. What we may think we know or understand, is quite likely not the full lesson. The many references we see regarding love do not even begin to reflect the true magnitude, emotion, and responsibilities. Only diligent effort, practice, and recognition of personal responsibility to seek true knowledge, will lead to understanding of agape.