In the Christian culture, there are many cliché phrases that get tossed around a lot. These phrases are seen as truth and it’s generally thought that they shouldn’t be questioned. In a sample, but common situation, one Christian is struggling with something and the other Christian responds by saying, “All you need is God.” Maybe the struggle is being unhappy with the relationships in your life. Maybe it’s not being able to accomplish your dreams. Whatever the struggle, it usually involves not getting what you want, so the typical response is, “You may not get what you want, but God gives you what you need and all you need is Him.”
Who first started saying this and why? Has this just been something that has been believed since religion first existed? Did the disciples of Jesus come to this realization, or did he tell them this? I am not a Bible expert, but I’m familiar enough to know that Jesus taught and said many things, but I don’t recall a time he said we only need Him and nothing else.
Abraham Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation says that we have five types of needs: physiological (food, water, etc), safety (security of health, employment , property, etc), love/belonging (friendship, family, sexual intimacy), esteem (confidence, achievement, respect), self-actualization (morality, creativity, etc). The first four are “‘deficiency needs’ because a person does not feel anything if they are met, but becomes anxious if they are not” (Hide and Seek). The last one is a “growth need.”
In Psalm 23, King David said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (v. 1 NIV). The rest of the psalm describes everything that God has given David, and why he lacks nothing. In the Bible, the most common needs that God supplies are physiological and safety needs. There are also other instances of God being a friend, father or mother, and the church is referred to as his bride. Thus, he can provide the love/belong need. I’m sure examples can be found that will show God can meet all the needs that we have, and I believe that He can, but does that mean He is all we need?
When someone tells me all I need is God, I picture myself on a tiny island by myself and all I have is a Bible. This may sound blasphemous, but just because God can provide all my needs doesn’t mean that He is all I need. If we only needed God, then why did He create us to be social creatures? Why did He give our hearts passions and give our minds dreams? Without fulfilling the desires of our hearts, we fill like our needs are not being met.
And, to sound even more sacrilegious, what if God is all I need, but not all I want? When I’ve told some people this, they tell me to pray more, spend more time with God, build a stronger relationship with Him and I won’t want anything else. I’ll be like David who lacked nothing because he Had God. God filled his soul. But, even when I try coming closer to God, I know I will never reach a point where I’ll want nothing else. And I think many Christians can relate to this.
God put millions of people on this planet and gave us so many resources and so much land. I don’t want to be stuck on that tiny island. I want to socialize, travel to all the places I haven’t seen, experience new things every day, accomplish my dreams, fall in love. These are things I need, and it can be argued that God can give me these things, and I would agree. But to that I say, God can provide all my needs, but don’t tell me that He is all I need.
It could be that when some people say, “God is all you need,” they really mean, “God can give you everything you need.” But that is not the way that saying is received when someone in need hears it. I think Christians are wonderful people, as well as non-Christians, but Christians are filled with easy-way-out sayings.
When people come to you in need, you can remind them that they have God, but then remind them that they have you too. Maybe you are what they need right now.