I have been wondering and struggling about something for a while now. I seem to hear two things about what people need. First is God and that we ought to be satisfied in Him, that we should not need anything else. But I also hear that people need community. They need to see the beauty of God's creation. They need support from friends, family, church, pastor, mentor.
So which is it?
Is it possible for us to have only God and none of those other things and be completely satisfied and full of joy in Him? Or is there a point at which we are right with God but are not fulfilled because we have none of the earthly things? Or is it that perhaps there is a point at which we cannot become more "right with God" or grow our relationship further without these other things?
Here's a practical example: Say I move to Alaska temporarily, but I am stuck in a stuffy office building; have no friends or family; the job is purposeless, stressful and draining; and it's hard to get connected into the church; and it doesn't feel like the church gives much spiritual food. Should I be satisfied and joyful in God? Or is it not good for man to be alone? Do I need community? A better church?
Given this kind of lonely, depressing situation, the answer I usually get is along the lines of "be satisfied in God." Out of such a context, it is usually that we need community to experience beauty and the love of God's people — all of which point us to God. I don't know which it is. Do we need both, or is God enough?
The way to understand the answer to this great question is to make sure we understand what we’re asking. We have what I would call the highest Need, who is Christ and who is enough (I’ll explain that). And Christ has chosen to create us with low-order needs — oxygen, food, shelter, clothing, etc. But behind all of those low-order needs is Christ the Provider who could, should He choose, meet those needs anyway He chooses.
He is the Creator. Out of nothing but himself, He made all that is. He made the very low-order needs we’re talking about, and then He meets them however He chooses, sometimes directly through himself (think manna from heaven) and sometimes indirectly through something or someone else.
Could He keep me alive on the moon without a spacesuit? Yes. That is what we would call a miracle. Does He usually operate that way? No. He usually operates through the natural laws He created.
So, the quick answer is that by His very nature as God, He is enough. There is not a need that He cannot meet; otherwise, He would be dependent upon something or someone else to help Him meet a need He is incapable of meeting. If that were the case, then He alone cannot be God.
Where you are probably having some fog is in the area of “how” God meets the needs He has created.
For example, He created the human race for himself. When He stated that it wasn’t good that Adam was alone, He wasn’t saying that He had created a need that He couldn’t meet; it would be impossible for God to do so. But for His sovereign plan, there was more to be done. He wasn’t finished.
We learn in Ephesians 5:31–32 that Adam alone wouldn’t have been the full picture of groom and bride that God wants people to understand about Christ and the church. That’s why it wasn’t good “for man to be alone.” I believe God is also making a statement about how humans would connect physically and emotionally with one another, but those aren’t ultimate Needs.
For this side of heaven, God’s divine order was that His creation would share a symbiotic relationship, meaning we would benefit by being in relationship with one another. We would not find salvation in it, but rather discover our need for salvation — and for Christ — in it.
The purpose of every detail of God’s creation is not to have our needs met by others, but rather to show how others can’t ultimately meet our needs and point us to the only One who can ultimately satisfy: that Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). Everything that God has created points to Christ as all. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Everything is either about Christ and our need for Him, or it is about nothing.
So a message is behind every low-order need we have, a statement about our ultimate Need. Christ gave us needs to show us our Need.
In marriage I discover that my wife can’t ultimately satisfy my deepest needs. I need more. The purpose of the elaborate system of dealing with sin in the Old Testament was to show us its inability to finally and fully address the sin issue. We need more.
Christ is the more. Christ is the all. There can be no need that any human has which Christ cannot and does not meet, be it food for our bodies or salvation for our souls.
Hope this helps clear things up a little for you. Thank you for a great question!
Copyright 2011 John Thomas. All rights reserved.