Saturday, July 14, 2018

77-5 Needs

Inspired by the song "One Thing" by Tenth Avenue North from their album Followers.

Americans are spoiled.

We have so many material blessings that reality becomes clouded. We forget what are really needs and what are really blessings. These blessings then become needs in our hearts, and we are no longer satisfied. We complain about the disparity between what we have and what the 1% has, and we forget that most of us qualify to be in the 1% of the world.

Let me give you a personal example. This week, my dad had to add a new shut-off valve on our sprinkler system. This meant shutting the water off for a few hours so that they could accomplish it. I ate my lunch while my mom came home from somewhere. When I was done and she was back, we had the harsh realization that we couldn't wash our hands. Oh, the horror!

We immediately had a laugh. First world problems, we said. There are people in Africa who have never seen clean water, and we are complaining after not having it for fifteen minutes. Isn't that the way we are?

And this is a serious problem in our society. People more and more think that they are owed something by the world. No one is satisfied by what they have, and if they get more, they still won't be satisfied.

It goes deeper, deep into our spiritual selves. Americans have become deadened to the things of God because they have been deadened to the need of God.

Think about evangelism. Isn't it amazing how one person goes to Africa and preaches and thousands of people come to salvation because of it. Here in America, either people have heard it before, it isn't convenient for them, or it doesn't appease them in the way they desire.

Why such the difference? Because the people in Africa see their need for God. These people have basically nothing, and when Jesus comes, he satisfies all their spiritual needs and many of their physical ones.

Americans are so caught up in the flows of living that they don't notice their souls crying out for a savior.

Also, the capitalist consumer society we live in teaches that through hard work we can provide for all our needs. Or, if you buy into more socialist views, if I can't accomplish it then the government will do it for me. In Africa, the people can barely get by. Most of the basic needs are iffy from day to day.

In Philippians 4, Paul says, "my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." It's that simple: God will provide for all our needs. It's a matter of believing that and trusting Him.

The American way of viewing that is skepticism. How can God provide for my needs? Has he seen how complex and unique my situation is? Besides, I'm doing pretty well and can get by if I just work hard enough and keep a positive attitude. And never in this thought process is there the conscious acknowledgement of our deeper needs.

The Africans hear that Jesus can provide for their needs and they are filled with joy! Their hopes have been answered! Someone has finally come who I can trust to provide for myself and my family, and take me to heaven when I die. The solution to all their needs is clearly Jesus, and He becomes their all and all. Everything pales in comparison once Jesus becomes the center of their life.

Do you see now why Christianity is spreading like wildfire there but barely noticed anymore here? To them, Jesus is their Savior; to us, Jesus is a religious leader. To them, Jesus is their most valued posession; to us, Jesus is an inconvenience. We nitpick Jesus' teachings to find the parts we find the most 'relevant;' they follow Him as true disciples. Here, people keep their faith to themselves; there, they tell all their friends, and tens of thousands come to Christ.

And the difference is all because they can see their need, and we apparently cannot.

Jesus doesn't call Christians to just do good, go to church on Sunday, pray for the meal and vote to repeal abortion. He calls us to follow Him. That means whatever He does, we do. However He speaks, we speak. Whoever He loves, we love unconditionally. This is because He is the center of our attention, our sole source of motivation, inspiration, and strength.

When Jesus is the most important thing in our life, the other things in this life fade away in comparison. We are no longer shackled to the stresses and concerns that seemed overwhelming before. We believe that God can supply all of our needs; why should we fear?

And Jesus becomes our most valuable possession. We don't need anything else to be satisfied. That distinction between needs and blessings gets into the proper light. We truly understand that God is the only thing that can satisfy.

Please don't think I have this all figured out. This isn't easy. But join me in reprogramming our minds so that Jesus is the center of everything we do and everything we think. It will help all of life make a whole lot more sense.

Lord, thank you that we can trust You to provide for all our needs. Help us to put You at the very center of our entire beings, so that we see our need for You daily. Let us watch the other needs become less and less important as You become the one thing that we need.

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