God has designed human beings to function as agape producing machines. When we think of machines, one such as a Coke machine might come to mind. You put your dollars in, push the appropriate button, and the selected soda drops into the enclosure provided. That is the limit of its capacities.
A smart phone is very different. In order to save my battery, I frequently close down the apps running on my iPhone. When I do, I am amazed at how many are open, reflecting all of the tasks I have been using my phone to achieve: check the weather, make calculations, write memos, read a file from my PC, text, check my email, and occasionally even make a phone call.
The human being as an agape producing machine is more like a smart phone than a Coke machine, only God has way surpassed Apple and android in the number of apps that He has installed on humans for producing agape.
What about humans can be used to produce agape? Well, everything. Paul makes this point in commanding, “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV) If everything we do should be done in love, apparently everything we are able to do can be done in love. In other words, agape can be the outcome of our every app.
This story brought home to me that even the most mundane of our activities can be a source of profound agape, or fail to be so.
It’s the 1970s. A 30-something man makes his way across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s passed by pedestrians and cyclists, and steps around tourists taking pictures of Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the channel of water below that runs between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He gazes up at the reddish-orange towers soaring above, and then climbs over the bridge’s four-foot safety railing. He steps out onto a 32-inch wide beam known as “the chord,” pauses, takes one last long look out at the bay, and then jumps. His body plummets 220 feet and violently hits the water at 75 mph. The impact breaks his ribs, snaps his vertebrae, and pulverizes his internal organs and brain. The Coast Guard soon arrives to recover his limp, lifeless body.
When the medical examiner later located and searched the jumper’s sparse apartment, he found a note the man had written and left on his bureau. It read: “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”
We can produce agape by functioning effectively in our given roles as spouses, parents, children, employers, employees, neighbors, friends, etc. Each of these roles offers distinct opportunities for expressing agape— utilizes different agape apps. Marriage, being the most profound earthly relationship provides us with countless opportunities to show agape such as by being pleasant, patient, complementary, helpful (bearing our share of the load and maybe some extra), romantic, willing to listen, sensitive and responsive to what the other person wants, unselfish financially, and so the list could go on almost endlessly.
Having been designed for and assigned the role of producing agape, and having been equipped with a virtually infinite array of agape apps, we should approach every new day seeking to produce maximum agape in every situation in which we find ourselves. Hopefully, at the end of each day as we shut down the various human apps we have been using, we will be able to reflect back on an outpouring of agape in every circumstance in which we found ourselves. Who knows what impact even the smallest expression of agape might have, such as a smile.