What real love looks like…

By: Jeff Sutherland

I almost walked out of church last night. One of my favorite pastors started speaking and asked if we remembered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, and a few people in the congregation were quick to google and share what Maslow taught. At this point I was getting angry. This is supposed to be church not psychology class.

But quickly our pastor asked, where is God in that pyramid? And he wondered what our needs pyramid should look like if God is the center of our life. At that point not only did I want to stay and hear what he had to say but I wanted to create a ‘God’s hierarchy of our needs pyramid’.

In Maslow’s pyramid and in the world’s view love is all about ME. Most people only think about love being the good things that happen to me but the Bible stands this whole idea on its head. Consider being sold into slavery, false accusations, imprisonment and other horrible things that happened to Joseph yet in the end he was able to say, ‘you meant it for evil but God meant it for good’.

Consider 400 years of slavery for God’s chosen people followed by 40 years wondering in the wilderness before they made it to the promised land and only two of those original two million people actually crossed the Jordan into Israel.

And to see what real love looks like we only need to look at Jesus.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, anyparticipation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2


What real love looks like is not pleasing ourselves and getting what we want so we can move up the ladder toward self-actualization. God showed us the way. He did the opposite, He climbed down the ladder, all the way down. His focus was on our real needs, the only need that matters. Life. His death gave us life and He require those who believe Him to follow His example to die to self and live for others.

Ephesians 5 says to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies, and they shall become one flesh.

This totally destroys Maslow’s hierarchy. Life isn’t supposed to be about me and getting what I need, it is about following Christ’s example and dying to self and living for others.

Next time your pastor wants to make his sermon into a psychology lesson, walk out. Run from that church. I am so thankful for a man of God who preaches the Word. Those who follow Maslow sound a lot like the lesson plan for church last night in Proverbs 4.

Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

We can’t worship the world’s ways or worship self while putting God first. Quit trying to blend psychology and the Bible. Thank you pastor!

Below is Maslow’s pyramid. God provides our needs. If we are having trouble breathing, eating, sleeping He has a greater purpose. God is our security and if we lose a job, or a house He has a better purpose. If we show love, others may not show it back but we will grow in our love for God. Our achievement, our confidence, our status is based on what He has done for us, Godly esteem. Our potential rests not on our effort but on His.

This pyramid should be turned upside down and the cross should be the pinnacle and focus of our lives and others should see that in us.

That is what real love looks like.

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