Beyond Counseling (excerpted from PsychoHeresy, Chapter 17)

by Martin and Deidre Bobgan


Jesus understood human need and He came to meet that need. Paradoxically, however, He taught that the human response to personal need should be to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness above all else. True personal needs are met within the context of His kingdom. There has been great confusion over what people need beyond the bodily necessities of life. Some say security, others elevate significance, and others reach for self-fulfillment and self-actualization. The Bible, on the other hand, says that the greatest human need is relationship with God and one another, as stated by Jesus when asked about the greatest commandment:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matt. 22:37-39).

Because the greatest human need is relationship with God, Jesus came to express God’s love and to pay the penalty for sin, which separates man from God. Jesus came to restore relationship. Therefore, after He ascended to the Father He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers so that they might experience the presence of God in their lives (John 14). Besides restored relationship with God, Jesus formed His church, which is His body (Eph. 1:22, 23). One stellar commandment to the disciples was to love one another just as Jesus had loved them. In fact, Jesus connected the relationship of the disciples to Himself with their relationship to one another: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.... This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:9, 12).

When Jesus taught about love and demonstrated the supreme love of God, He was not referring to warm fuzzy feelings. He was speaking of a deep commitment of believers to each other that would surpass even natural family relationships. Just as He put the welfare of others before Himself when He went to the cross, Jesus challenged His disciples to love one another.

Putting the welfare of another person before oneself is not a popular message today, and it was not popular in Jesus’ day either. Rather than just taking care of themselves, the disciples were instructed to take care of each other, to love one another with longsuffering, and to regard the needs of each other as important as personal needs. When people who have been saved by faith choose to live in love and commitment to God and to each other, there will be spiritual growth and the means to face the challenges of life.

The church lives in the midst of a society that preaches a different message, a message of self-gratification. Although someone may object to the idea that psychology has fostered this trend, the entire history of psychology has supported selfishness. Michael and Lise Wallach, authors of the book Psychology’s Sanction for Selfishness, preface their historical analysis by saying:

A surprisingly broad and influential range of psychological theory turns out to legitimize selfishness. Although this is usually far from what is intended, support is lent by academic thinkers as well as clinicians, by Freudians as well as anti-Freudians, behaviorists as well as contenders against behaviorism, and by psychologists who investigate altruism as well as by those who deny its existence. Support is lent even by psychologists who themselves deplore the adverse moral impact of psychology’s teachings (p. ix).

We are now living in the midst of a people that exalts and celebrates the self. Because self is central, getting in touch with one’s feelings is of utmost importance. Personal well-being has become the goal of life. Even the church has moved from community to individuality and from sanctification to self-realization….

Jesus Himself is the source of life for a believer. Therefore, relationship with Him must be nurtured above all other activities or relationships. Because of the vital significance of abiding in Jesus in attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions, the spiritual life of the believer must extend into all areas of life, so that no part is outside of relationship with Him. Everything in the world attempts to counteract this essential connection of the believer to Jesus. Every temptation will attempt to undermine faith, hope, and love, because once a believer begins to act independently from Jesus he weakens his will to do God’s will.

Jesus knows that Christians need to be bonded together as one body to withstand temptation because of the influence of the world and because of the evil forces of the kingdom of darkness under the rulership of Satan. Christians need each other, not just for what the other can provide, but also because of each person’s need to exercise the love of Christ. Jesus did not command us to love one another so that our own needs for love may be met, but rather so that we would have opportunities to love in relationship, in both giving and receiving.

 

(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, November-December 2013, Vol. 21, No. 6)

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