Jesus and Maslow

So often our greedy intellect tries to make Christianity somehow fit cleverly into some psychological paradigm. Take the Maslow theory devised in 1943.  This theory, Abraham Maslow called Hierarchy of Needs,  suggests a triangle of life needs with the physical on the bottom rung and rising to self-actualization at the apex.  He makes the case that when people get their primal needs met they will be open for the spiritual. Like Maslow, Jesus was interested in the whole realm of the human condition.  He said, if someone has a need, meet it as you would like to have yours met.  We, instead, have created a complex human resources 'department'  to manage and compartmentalize needs. We find it simpler to separate off the spiritual need from the practical need. We have created neat boxes to deal with life matters. This fits in the gospel of words, this is a gospel of social justice need, and, if you are hungry we have a gospel of community assistance.  

You go to the soup kitchen to get fed, you find a church to manage your faith and you go to a ‘priest’ of some kind to find your way through the maze inbetween.

The 'good' church meets all the needs through its various programs - a one-stop Maslow shop!  Evangelists have been so hell-bent (excuse the phrase) on meeting the need for conversion or self-actualization that sensitivity to the layers of need and the cultural context of their 'customers' has been sorely limited. Our community services leaders have put action and meeting of physiological needs as their personal favourite.  Too many words have been spoken and too many meals been cooked! Instead we were instructed to go to places where disciples can be made.  

So how does the Jesus's 'theory' fits  into each of Maslow’s levels of needs?  Jesus just crushes it.  He says in ALL things I have “come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Go out and make room for the whole triangle of need.