The Agape Producing Machine’s Need for a Brain

My previous post introduced the concept that God designed the human being to function as an agape producing machine. Agape, seeking to benefit others, is the sole purpose for our existence.

In today’s world even the simplest machines have some sort of a computer type mechanism that provides guidance, e.g. a watch. God has provided a human being with a brain far superior to any computer that enables us to effectively produce agape, and doing so demands such a mechanism.

When we think of showing agape to others, it is easy to make the mistake of assuming that knowing how to best benefit others is obvious and intuitive. Often, if not most of the time, that is not the case.

For some reason a number of street corners in Greensboro are occupied by people holding up cardboard signs asking for money. I find myself searching for the agape response. My first impulse is to lower the car window and hand out a couple of dollars. However, on further thought I wonder why these people don’t avail themselves of the scores of government programs designed to help them or why they do not reach out to a local rescue mission. This line of reasoning leads me to ask whether giving them money enables them in a lifestyle not to their best interests. I also wonder whether the money will be used for alcohol or drugs.

This analysis reveals that displaying agape requires employment of the mind with which God has equipped us. The Apostle Paul made the same point in Philippians 1:9-10. “And this I pray, that your love (agape) may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent….” Agape requires knowledge and discernment.

We realize the need to engage our minds also in seeking to identify the most loving alternative. Do I give money to the man on the street corner who seemingly is not working or do I add those dollars to the tip to the waitress in the restaurant who is a single mom that is working or do I give it toward missions?

Our minds are also needed to answer the “how much” question. Sometimes these quantitative type questions are the most difficult to answer.

In addition to the financial agape questions are ones dealing with use of our time and other resources in producing agape. We must conclude that producing agape draws heavily on our God-given mental resources.

Often well-intentioned people seek to display agape without effectively engaging their minds, which leads to wasting resources and even hurting those they were seeking to help. This sort of misguided agape is addressed in Marvin Olasky’s book, The Tragedy of American Compassion.

In functioning as an agape producing machine, good intentions are not enough. God has equipped us with a mind that we must employ in order to be effective.

One comment on “The Agape Producing Machine’s Need for a Brain
  1. CK says:

    I found your blog doing a search on Mother Teresa, and plan to add your blog to my reading list. I currently live in NYC, and see the homeless often. That verse haunts me about Jesus separating the Goats from His Sheep (wheat/chaff), and says when I was hungry you did not feed me, in prison you did not visit me….as what you did to the least of these you did unto me. When I was walking downtown one day, I walked passed a bronze statue outside of a Catholic Church. It was a statue of a man sitting cross legged on the sidewalk, covered with a blanket and a hand was outstretched. However, the hand has a hole to signify Jesus as the beggar. I read this verse as a high school student and it always stayed in my frontal lobe. When I see the homeless, I see Jesus and try to stop and introduce myself, ask for their name. I used to give money but read on a mission website to give meal cards in bulk like Subway (healthier options). I tell them that they matter, that God loves them so much, and how important they are. I know four by name.

    I live near Central Park, and at a nearby church, two homeless men sleep literally at the foot of the majestic doors, a fluorescent cross hangs diagonally above them. The church does offer weekly meals, and in its outside messages, seem to welcome all. Shouldn’t we all sleep at the foot of the cross?

    At the same time, I struggle with my faith at times. I am estranged from my mom and sister, which equates to my entire large family but one brother due to their control, strong characteristics of MNPD/Sociopathy; have major trust issues/PTSD. As a professed believer that Jesus stands before God and my wretched-self, the contradictions (cognitive dissonance) is soul-sucking. So many verses/warnings come to mind like giving to the poor but without love means nothing; ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth; my sheep hear my voice. Do I hear Jesus’ voice? Like Whitney Houston’s song goes “How will I know?”

    So you can glean correctly that I’m searching for answers.

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