Jesus and Abraham


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 65; 147:1-11, Malachi 1:1, 6-14, James 3:13-4:12, Luke 17:11-19

James wrote:

You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Few of us resort to murder, but unhealthy cravings drive us to acquire more than we need, and part with less than we should. When we lack necessities – food, water, safety – we may resort to emotional, political, or physical violence. If we have the basics, James advises to ask not for objects of personal enrichment, but things we can use toward the betterment of the Kingdom. It’s a win-win when we learn to crave things we can use to serve those in need.

Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” –illustrated as a stratified pyramid – describes motivations for behavior and growth. According to Maslow, we must satisfy lower needs before we can aspire to higher ones. The lowest Physiological level includes food, water, etc. The next highest is Safety. The middle one is Love/belonging. Esteem and Self-actualization top the pyramid. The higher the level, the fewer people achieve it.

If we expect a need will never be met, we may be spiritually stunted. In a village between Samaria and Galilee, Jesus encountered ten people with leprosy, a lifelong sentence of rejection. Forbidden from drawing near, they called to Jesus from a distance: “Have mercy on us.” He told them to show themselves to the priests. On the way all were healed. Only one, a Samaritan man, returned to thank Jesus. Not only had Jesus restored this man’s health, he restored the possibility of love, belonging, and all that might follow.

That sense of love and belonging is the bridge between our base needs and our higher selves. Sometimes we need to offer someone ordinary bread from our own table before they can cross over to Christ’s table for the bread of life. If you’re not sure which to share when, ask God for both.

Comfort: Your needs are important to God.

Challenge: You may need to learn to distinguish needs from cravings.

Prayer: God of abundance, I ask only for what will equip me to serve you. Amen.

Discussion: What is something you really wanted but didn’t get? How did you handle it?

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6 thoughts on “Jesus and Abraham

  1. Great post!

    God has kind of put me in this place where I’m realizing that what I think I need, is not actually what I need. I think my family needs a larger income, for example. And, instead, I find God is giving me ample opportunity to flex my creative gifts. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? In His eyes, I need to stretch my faith and my perspective and start using what I already have. What better way to serve the Kingdom than to grow into the gift of our own personhood? That top tier there– we are no longer living for ourselves. Self-actualization isn’t for our own well being, but for the Kingdom. I just love how you tied Maslow in here… seriously awesome:)

    Maslow was a genius, IMO. His hierarchy of needs changed the face of Social Work and Public Policy — one cannot expect a hungry child to learn anything at school… nor can we expect empathy and cooperation from individuals stripped of any semblance of family or community.

    But once we ourselves get past our most immediate needs, like James writes, and we keep on asking for stuff only to receive silence. That’s on us, not God. God is One– and, imago dei is intended to revel in the same oneness that ties the Trinity together in Love.

    Seems like a tall order for Americans today… but God loves a challenge. His glory shines forth most brilliant when He chooses to reveal Himself through those most unlike Him in their shared ethos:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Great, thoughtful comment, Kristen. I am enjoying reading about your journey on your blog. Most of my posts are about things I can articukate, but still struggle to live out. I like the sense of community in journeying together. Peace!

      Liked by 1 person

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