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You say we need to be fully satisfied with God alone, yet even Adam in a perfect world, who had an ideal relationship with the Creator received a helper because it was not good for him to be alone. Jesus had Peter, James, and John. He also had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but yet you tell me I have to be satisfied with God alone? Could you help me understand this? – Supporting Member
The supporting member is referring to this article where I said,
The thing you believe you need will control you, and you’ll know what controls you by how you respond to life’s situations or, more specifically, to the difficult people in your life. In those moments when I am sinning against my wife, I believe I need whatever it is I’m mad about, e.g., desires for love, appreciation, respect, approval.
If those things are where I focus my heart, then not getting those things will cause me to respond sinfully. However, with a mind oriented toward God and fully satisfied in Him alone, her behavior—good or bad—would have no control. If anyone other than God is controlling you, then you’re stuck in idolatry.
That person you need, at least for now, God is using to reveal your idolatry. Yes, God can use sin sinlessly, and if you are sinning due to unmet expectations in another person, be sure to know Sovereign God is working for you, calling you to repentance.
What I said is true, but our member also has a point. It’s not unusual for two things to be true at the same time. It’s your presupposition that determines which way you interpret something. We must ask the Spirit to provide the insight we need to see into the complexities of a matter. Most of our questions need more in-depth clarification.
For example, if you were struggling with loneliness, reading what I wrote would be difficult. You may upload your fear of being lonely into my narrow point about how relationships can become idols. The things we care about the most (i.e., fear of loneliness) can so dominate our thoughts that it’s virtually impossible to think outside of that mental framework.
You see the member’s presupposition by the use of the word “alone.” She said it three times. If you read my quote through her lens of a lonely presupposition, you would become frustrated, too. Mercifully, she responded the way any mature person would; she asked for a clarification. I will provide that now.
She uses the word alone differently than what I meant. She is coming from a social perspective. “It’s not good for Adam to be alone” (socially). Or, “Jesus was not alone—socially—because He had friends.” Socially alone in a fallen world is a problem. Adam did not live in a fallen world, but a perfect one where there was no sin.
He was not dissatisfied with God. You could say that God was enough for him. For the record, Adam never said he needed anything. The Lord did not have to create Eve, but God was the one determining how things ought to be, and Adam was rolling along with His creative work.
To assume Adam was dissatisfied without companionship is reading into the text, and it could bring sin into the picture prematurely (Genesis 3:6). The Lord did not say that He was not enough for Adam, so he must have someone else. God was satisfied with Adam alone, and Adam was content with God alone.
Adam could have lived forever with God alone because he was fully satisfied with the Lord. God does have a way of satisfying us. If I had been spiritually satisfied in God alone, I would not have messed up my social relationship with my wife. If I had found the fulfillment of my desires in God alone, I would not have been so demanding of my wife.
In the moment of my anger, I was not satisfied with God alone. My sin was revealing a momentary brokenness in my relationship with God. I needed something from my wife to keep me from sinning. In essence, I was saying, “If you love me rightly, I will not sin.” Do you see the spiritual problem this attitude implies? “To keep from sinning, I need you to love me,” which is heresy.
All I should need is God alone to keep me from sinning. I don’t need God and my wife. That perspective is like the crack addict saying, “I need God and my drug fix. If I have both, I will be okay.” No, all you need is God alone, and you will be okay. One way to discover the strength of a person’s relationship with God and satisfaction in Him alone is by how much grumbling or demanding they do.
My supporting member does bring up a point, though, and I must not be dismissive of it. There is a difference between spiritual and social satisfaction. Though Jesus was satisfied spiritually with His Father, there was a social component to His life. How you think about your social relationships are vital.
Out of the overflow of your spiritual contentment with God comes a divine purpose for your social relationships. Though Adam was not lonely, God thought it was good to give Him a social mate. There were many reasons for this creative act. For example, marriage, a complementary mate, the ability to accomplish things, reproduction, friendship, and modeling “Christ and the church” are good reasons to socialize. You can’t do any of these things without others.
Because the Lord made us in His image, it’s impossible to reflect Him well if we’re not in social contexts. God is a community—Father, Son, and Spirit, and we need a community to benefit from the fullest measure of what it means to image our Creator. To desire social constructs is to live out the practical realities of how God made you.
Adam was spiritually full, but God created a woman that opened his eyes to never previously considered social possibilities. Every human after Adam intuitively knows that friendship and companionship are God-ordained desires. The young man or woman who longs to marry is acting out typical, expected, and sound desires. Conversely, it would be problematic for a person to crave to be alone or anti-social.
Where we run afoul is when we take these desires for companionship and turn them into needs that control us, like what I was doing to my wife. It is possible to live without social relationships, though it’s not something any of us should desire, but if you flip a good desire into a need, you’re placing yourself in the position where that need will control you. It can become an idol—something you want to examine to see if any of your desires have that kind of power.
The best test to discern between needs and desires is how you respond when you don’t get what you want. There will be seasons in your life where you do not receive what you want. The person who is spiritually satisfied in God alone will persevere through those times of unmet social desires. What I’m not saying is that you must stay in that condition forever.
In their elementary understanding and penchant for making hyperbolic points, some biblical counselors will hammer the “need versus desire nail” into obliteration. This overreach to bang home a point is dangerous. Perhaps you will hear them say, “God is all you need.” Of course, these are men and women who have socially satisfying relationships. If their spouses were to leave them or they lost their children, they would sing another tune.
Living in abysmal loneliness does not image our Trinitarian God, and it’s not good for the sad, socially-longing soul. My point is that you must not let any situation control you, but that does not mean flagellation, vows of poverty, and the monastic lifestyle are your highest aims.
Though you should find Christ’s satisfying strength in any situation, you also want to have a robust theology of social relationships. Christ can power you through seasons of dearth, despair, and relational discontentment, but it would be best if you did not stay there. God has a higher calling on your life that you won’t fulfill without other people in your life. So, while you must not come under the controlling power of any circumstance, per Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:11-13, it is human to crave a better relationship status.
I mentioned a few reasons to desire companionship. I talked about marriage, procreation, imaging the Trinity, and modeling Christ and the church. You cannot do any of these things without others. Thus, the first purpose of desiring a relationship is to accomplish something that you cannot do alone. The key to relationships is to make sure you understand this presupposition.
Jesus did not need people to fill some spiritual void in His life. Neither did Adam. Jesus and Adam needed relationships because of what they could accomplish with them. Do you see the essential purpose of companionship? The pursuit of friendship is not to meet a desperate need in you. You want friends so you can adequately glorify God in His world.
If your aim for marriage or friendship is to fill your cup, you will use people while becoming a relational addict. But suppose you see people as an opportunity to love God and others more effectively. In that case, you will expand God’s relational purposes in your life while passively benefiting from your others-centered initiatives (Ephesians 5:27).
The gospel demands that you have friends. The gospel is about going to others and being Jesus to them. There are many “one another” passages in the New Testament that supports this claim. The Bible is a friendly book for friendly people. You should have friends because God is a friendly God. I hope you always crave friendships and pursue them for the right reasons.
I trust your friends see you as an example of someone who knows what a biblical relationship should be, and they follow your lead. There are too many people in our world who use others for narcissistic reasons. May the gospel always fuel you in others-centered activities.
If you do these things well, you will also be a beneficiary. It’s not accurate to say, “You should love others with no expectation of anything in return.” If you love well, there are specific, personal, and social benefits. Everyone won’t love you back, but most folks will. Though your first goal is not to get something from them, you should expect the good Lord to honor your gospel-motivated endeavors by filling you up with friends and memories that will always keep a smile on your face.
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).