Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 28, 2008
The Human Soul craves agape love
Agape love is selfless, spiritual, unconditional
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
A television evangelist was delivering one of his weekly sermons. His messages are usually very good so I took an interest in what he was going to say. He started his sermon by asking a question: "What is the greatest human need?"
Well, from a purely physical perspective, a listener might answer "air, warmth, food and fresh water, then safety - in that order." Of course, the pastor was not thinking about physical need, he was referring to the greatest human need from an emotional or spiritual perspective.
He said, "From birth to death the greatest human need is confidence." Full stop. Did I hear him right? The greatest human need is confidence?
His text was taken from St. Paul's opening words in his letter to the Philippians:
"I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:3-6).
With all due respect to the television evangelist, I must disagree. St. Paul was not extolling the virtues of people having confidence, rather he was expressing his confidence in the steadfast faith and partnership of Philippian Christians, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Clearly, St. Paul had a special affection for them and this is quite evident in the next two verses (7-8): "It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus."
Need for love
The greatest human need is not confidence. The greatest human need is love. Every human being needs love from the moment they are conceived to the moment of their death.
Don't get me wrong. Having confidence is important. People need confidence to succeed in life. They need to have confidence to accomplish great things. Confidence is important but it is not the greatest human need. Human beings need love - they need to love and be loved.
St. Paul wrote most eloquently about the primacy of love (1 Corinthians 13). In this immortal chapter about love, the Apostle did not use the Greek word "eros" meaning sexual desire or carnal love. He did not use the Greek word "philos" which deals with the affection of friendship. St. Paul used the less common word "agape."
Agape love is the deliberate choice to love unconditionally rather than any worthiness of the one who is loved. Agape love is selfless, spiritual, unconditional love of the nature revealed in Jesus Christ. Agape love described in 1 Corinthians 13 involves outward action and inner attitude.
True agape love is patient and slow to anger; it shows kindness to everyone it encounters; it is unselfish, truthful and honest; it encourages and is hopeful.
The human soul desires to receive agape love and yearns to give it.
Just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34).
Christ did not come to teach us to exude confidence. He did not come with a message about the power of positive thinking. His love for us and our love for him may produce those qualities, but that was not the reason for the Incarnation. Christ came because of love for a broken and lost humanity, cut off by sin from their Creator - God. Divine love was behind the Incarnation. God is love and he created humanity for love.
Bishop Fulton Sheen said, "The human heart is isolated and in agony: it has more love to give than earth-bound objects can receive. It clamours to be loved more lastingly and comprehendingly than by any human lover."
There is an unsatisfied longing in every human soul to be immersed in a warm and eternal love of God. Somewhere in the heart of every human being is a desire to love the divine and be loved divinely. If you take the time to shut out distractions, worries and the demands of daily life, and quiet your heart, you will find that what remains is a longing for God's love.
Perfect love of God
It is at such a time that confidence becomes important. We can rest confidently in the knowledge that we are loved perfectly by a perfect God. The deepest longing within your soul and mine can be satisfied through faith in Jesus Christ. It is completed by reflecting Christ's love to the people we encounter.
Live and die confident in Christ's love.
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