The greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
God created us with deep needs. None of us are self-sufficient. Among many basic needs are the needs for food and love, food for the soul.
One of the factors for the revolution in Egypt is the need for food at a reasonable price. Egypt imports more wheat than any other country in the world, and at a high price.
The United Nation's World Food Program describes Egypt as a "food-deficit country." In spite of $3 billion in annual government food subsidies, the average Egyptian household spends 40 percent of its income on food, compared to 10 percent in the United States.
Approximately 50 million out of 80 million Egyptians rely on their government's subsidized bread every day. Yet, bakeries cannot provide enough bread. Rising food prices and food shortages make acquiring food a daily hardship for millions of Egyptians. The need for food helped push Egypt into riotous revolution.
In a similar way, the soul riots when there is a shortage of love. The soul starves in an environment of criticism, caustic words, anger, rejection, abandonment, loneliness, hate and cruelty.
As a result, an inner riot erupts and is acted out in addictions, violence and revenge to satisfy the hunger for healthy, loving relationships that cultivate the giving and receiving of love.
"Love cures people," according to renowned Christian psychiatrist Karl A. Menninger. "Love cures both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it. Love is a medicine for the sickness of the world; a prescription often given, too rarely taken."
Christ is the highest and deepest evidence of God's love and enables us to give and receive love. His love is without conditions. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Carl Rogers, the father of client-centered therapy, captured the power of this unconditional love. "With unconditional positive regard, the individual has a capacity to discover his 'true self' he or she is meant to become."
Christ, the Bread of Heaven, feeds the hungry soul, satisfying one of our basic human needs. He breaks the bread from his boundless storehouse and gives it away, feeding millions upon millions who find acceptance, blessings, friendship, kindness and love from him.
Those who receive that love and give it away make the soul complete, forming a cycle of receiving and giving love again and again.
When Menninger was asked what a person should do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on, he answered, "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something for them."
Empty stomachs become satisfied with food. Empty souls become satisfied with the giving and receiving of the love from God, who incarnated his love through Christ.
The Rev. Dan White is pastor of North Columbia Church in Appling.