We’ve all been there before: we see this year’s model car and our heart cries out “I NEED THAT CAR!!!” Really, is that what I really need? Probably not, but we feel it so strongly.
Effective churches are often accused of catering to the needs of the unchurched. Why would a church talk about topics like parenting, life at work, marriage and sex? By they way, these are issues that Christians and non-Christians alike have in common.
Abraham Maslow studied human needs and found that there are basic needs that we have for survival, like air, food and water. And then there are some more complicated needs that people are aware of when their basic needs are met. These are things like the need for love, acceptance and respect.
What people think they need and what they really need are different. There are certain needs that people are aware of called Felt Needs. These are what people think they want. For example, if you want to gather a group of students, or ME, a felt need would be for something like PIZZA.
There are also Real Needs which are the things that we understand people need, but they may not realize it yet. These are for connection with God and others. Our ultimate need is for salvation and knowing God. These are more important because while the other needs are temporary, our spiritual needs are eternal.
Jesus didn’t just meet people’s spiritual needs, he also took care of their felt needs. This is like what Jesus did in Mark 2 when he not only met the lame man’s physical need of healing but he also met his spiritual need for forgiveness.
I love the story about the missionary who traveled to a remote island inhabited by cannibals. Though the natives were frightened, they tried to be accommodating to their guest by giving him a place to stay and food to eat.
The young missionary carried a small black book with him that he would point to and then he would point to the sky while yelling something very important. They noticed that he didn’t smile very often, but they listened politely to him as he spoke, even though they couldn’t really understand his words. They figured out that he was talking about his God who lived in the little black book and that he was saying that his God was greater than their gods. This didn’t make a lot of sense to the natives.
Over time, the guest didn’t show any interest in fishing or farming, and he got in the way of their daily chores. When they did something that he perceived as wrong, he would point his finger and scold them. Eventually the leaders of the tribe got together to decide what to do with this man. He did not produce anything of value for them and he consumed a lot of their products. They decided he only had one use. So they ate him.
The moral of the story is that we should find needs and meet them with love. We’ve got to lend a hand before we can change a heart!