In this episode John and Gregg discuss a recent conversation Gregg had with a person at Swiss L’Abri concerning their expectations that God should “meet their needs.”
John’s sees the idea of “God meeting our needs” as one that was over-sold in his Christian experience. John feels this way because he felt that God has rarely met his needs in the way he expected or understood that God was supposed to do so. John’s expectations come from the experiences he’s heard other Christians describe. Gregg is curious how the people giving these testimonies actually validated their experiences of God.
John gives an example of someone in a difficult time who prayed to God for help and support. The person then opened their Bible to a random page where they read something in the Psalms that they found to be very comforting (and so helpful). Gregg replies with some skepticism: by randomly opening a Bible it’s fairly easy to open to the Psalms (which are right in the middle) and the Psalms is very full of supportive, comforting material.
Gregg’s view is that if a Christian is seeking a shift of perspective on our current situation, then reading the Bible in that way may be helpful. Also, Gregg speculates about the role of latent memories: having an inarticulate memory of some biblical verse, someplace in the Bible that “pops up” in our mind just like certain descriptive words in the foreign languages he has studied often “pop up” in Gregg’s mind, and which later prove to be related to the matter at hand.
John is surprised when Gregg notes that he really cannot relate to the idea that God meets our needs. Hasn’t Gregg claimed in past that God has met Gregg’s needs? Gregg explains that his return to Christianity was based on both new experiences and new understandings about God. Particularly, where God is most interested in the furtherance of God’s kingdom (as that which is from God, by God, and for God), Gregg believes that God’s kingdom is central, wherein people are epicenters of God’s love.
In this way, in terms of Gregg’s return to Christianity Gregg did “have his needs met” in terms of having certain things that were broken (due to his history of familial abuse) that got fixed. Particularly, Gregg’s view is that his ability to receive love (as believing himself to be loveable) and to love in return were, essentially, healed his brokeness.
Yet in another context this sense of “meeting our needs” is much more oriented toward the importance of God’s kingdom over the imminent needs that we experience. With this mind, Gregg shares how his marriage experienced unending difficulty over a long period of time, where no amount of counseling had helped. Gregg was at a breaking point and had engaged more people to pray for him and his situation than ever before. He had traveled across the country because he was at the point of separating from his wife and so was evaluating a new place to live and work.
In the midst of this Gregg had a remarkably strong sense from God, that he was simply to continue laying out his graduate work at his blog and share it with a wider audience. And in doing so, Gregg sees the work that he was meant to do as a way of furthering God’s kingdom and yet, at that same time, God did not magically fix Gregg’s marriage.
Note from John: This is definitely an episode the needs to be listened to in order to get the full context and nuance of the subjects discussed. There is also much more to discuss than is covered in this one episode.