This week’s column is the first installment of a two-part series titled “The Number One Need of the Human Condition.” Part two will publish on Sept. 13.
Let’s revisit some things that we need. The most basic human needs are food and water.
How about shelter? Some would argue over what that may look like. In its most primitive forms, a cave, lean-to, teepee or mud hut. Others would suggest greater accommodations such as indoor plumbing, electricity, standalone HVAC systems, windows, divided rooms and so forth. A few may go so far to say each child should have their own bedroom, multiple bathrooms, 2,000 square feet or bigger. No matter how you slice it, we need shelter from extreme heat and cold. However basic or opulent the shelter may be, we need it.
Honestly, some of us have a real need for toothpaste and deodorant.
Here goes a real offensive question: Are makeup and hair dye a real need? Speaking of gray areas (pun intended), we need to ask again, what are the true differences between needs and wants.
Things that we really want sometimes feel like needs. So where to draw the line? How many cars, houses, clothing, jewelry, material possessions do we need? But even altruistically, how much do we give? What about having a savings, investments, let alone a retirement fund of some sort?
When our wants kick into overdrive and desires for more and more increase in our hearts and minds. Like a fire that is never satisfied found in Prov 30:16B.
Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” What does it profit/what advantage is there, for a person, to gain the whole world? To own everything, means to control everything, and everyone.
I dare say that all of us have fantasized about winning a lottery and being rich.We play out in our heads and maybe had conversations with others about what we would do with the money. In gaining the whole world, you wouldn’t have to worry about things like a mortgage.
That would mean that all the people would either owe you or they would be your slaves. It happened in Egypt when there was a famine in the land and all the people ended up spending everything they had, then selling everything they owned, to the pharaoh for food, out of desperation. Finally, they sold themselves to their ruler as slaves for food/survival. That was the only way they could have their needs met, according to Gen 47:13-25.
Looking back in history at all sorts of rich people or rulers who have lived, historians and teachers try to find comparisons, principles or traits for us to learn from their lives to develop our leadership potential. But no matter how you slice it, they all had one thing in common, they died.
No matter how much wealth or power they acquired, they died. No matter who or how long they reigned, they died. No matter how cruel or benevolent, they died. Even the pharaoh died. Even Solomon, who some would argue, was the richest man who ever lived, died. God asks the question, “What advantage is there?” And then you lose your soul anyway.
The implications can sound ominous, but the question is valid and the primary point made. That your soul is worth more than all the riches and power of the whole world combined. And the underlying thought is, why would you sacrifice your soul for the seemingly insignificant riches of the whole world? In God’s eyes, this is no brainier stuff. You are worth more.
Why is your soul worth more? Because you will exist forever. All the material possessions on Earth will become useless, worthless at some time or another. Kingdoms come and kingdoms go. Even Earth itself will be done away with at some point, Rev 21:1, but you as an individual will exist forever.
So the question that needs answering is where? What happens when I die and where do I go?
In popular culture there are a variety of depictions, we walk into a white light. Some die and come back and don’t remember anything. Others have to do some good deed to get into heaven or the good place. Hell is depicted as a temporary place, or something you can escape from, or it is made into a parody.
Tune in on Sept. 13 for the final part in this series.