“COME FOR FREE PIZZA” By Pastor YAU
1) Presentation and free pizza: Money is tight when you are a college student. So when free food is available, students will show up anytime, anywhere. When a company wants to recruit new employees, it will entice students on college campuses to come to a presentation by offering free pizza. Some students attend many presentations---just for the pizza! The food at the time seems to be more important than the offer of jobs in the future.
2) Presentation and free supper: Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus set a presentation on eternal life at a mountain side, and at the closing, he fed the 5,000 with bread and fish. The next day, many searched for him. When he met them, he challenged them: “You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate of the bread and were filled.” (John 6:26) It seems the food was more important to these people than the everlasting life Jesus offered. He told them he was “the bread of God…who comes down from heaven to give life to the world.” (6:33)Some didn’t believe him and wouldn’t accept his message and “walked with him no more.” (6:66)They had wanted the food, but they didn’t want Jesus nor wanted to follow him.
SECULAR THEORY ON HUMAN NEEDS: In 1943, Abraham Maslow, an icon on developmental psychology, created a list of 5 basic human needs in his paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Later his theory was fully expressed in his book, Motivation and Personality in 1954. This theory has been widely used by scholars on human development of psychology. The Maslow’s theory is often times portrayed in a pyramid with the first level on the base which means both the lowest of all the needs as well as the value of motivation and personality development. Here is a summary of the theory:
1) Needs of the physical life: These needs include air, water, food, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. These needs cater to the survival and development of the human body. On this level, human beings are just another kind of living animals. In a way, we all are and we all have these needs to survive.
2) Needs of feeling safe: These needs are a level higher than the basic level and are necessary to support the continuity of survival, These focus on security of the body, employment of work, resources like sufficient supplies, community or family, property and health. This group expends from basic survival to maintenance of the body and life to feeling secured. Some people live on the above 2 levels.
3) Needs of love and belong: Emotional needs come after the basic and security needs are met. These include the needs of friendship, family, community, the need of emotional and sexual intimacy. We all want to feel belong, to love and to be loved. Lots of people live their lives on these 3 levels: Needs of the body, the security and the emotional level.
4) Needs of esteem: This is a higher level of needs beyond the last 3 levels. It includes self-esteem, confidence, achievement and respect of others, and respected by others. This came to mind by his study on what he called exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams (a famous sociologist, social reformer on women and children and author in the early 20th century America) and Eleanor Roosevelt. People who have strong desires or needs of this level are higher achievers and leaders of their respective field of life.
5) Needs of self-actualization: This is the top level on human needs in the development of motivation and personality. It is also called fulfillment of the self. This includes moral quality, creativity, spontaneity, rid of prejudice and ability to accept facts. People who strive on the above are closer to the level of idealists, thinkers, philosophers. Religious founders belong to this level because they want to fulfill the goal of their lives and the lives of their followers by self-perpetuation.
ACADEMIC CRITICISM ON HUMAN THEORY: God is the Creator of man and only He knows what man needs. While Maslow’s theory was widely accepted and used by sociologists, anthropologists and psychologist, but it is full of flaws from the perspective of the Bible:
1) Incomplete on the nature of man: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man become a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) The Bible clearly indicates that man is made by God with a combination of dust, material of the earth, and the breath of life, spiritual life from God. To look at the nature of man only from his human or earthly side is at best incomplete or worse, bias. Without knowing the Bible and the spiritual side of man, human understanding of man is at flaw, incomplete and bias.
2) Disregard the role of God: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him; male and female, He created them.” (Gen. 1:27)Since man is created in the image of God, and received from Him the breath of life, ignoring the role of God or man’s spiritual needs in any and all discussion of man’s needs is human prejudice. Since the most important part of man is not his body, but his soul, we need to start from the perspective of God, the Bible, to know the needs of man and how to meet them.
3) Starting from the wrong foot: “Jesus answered: It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The Bible points out that the baseline on the needs of man’s life is not from bread, material or physical elements, but from the word of God, the spiritual elements. No supplies of material needs may fulfill the emptiness of a man’s life, much less his heart. By focusing only on the human side on human needs, the theory lost in the woods without the guidance of God’s word.
4) Awful smell of evolution: By looking at the pyramid of the Maslow theory and the contents of each category, anyone can see, feel or understand the developmental steps of human behavior. This is so close to the pattern of evolution except this is about behavioral and evolution is about physiological. On the biblical perspective when God created Adam and Eve, there was NO evidence that God left them in a primitive stage and allows them to develop the personality and needs in stages as evolution has been teaching us. When man and woman were created, God endowed them with full capacity of thinking, working, choosing and facing consequences, all at one time.
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES ON HUMAN NEEDS: (John 6:25-35)
1) The background of the event: The passage we have today is the finale of the miracle of feeding the 5,000 in the early part of this chapter, 6:1-14. No doubt the 5,000 had so much to eat that they had left 12 basketful of crumbs. (6:13) During the time of Jesus, food was a precious commodity for the poor and the outcast. I believe that the 5,000 didn’t come to listen to Jesus had any idea of getting a free supper, but the Lord was gracious and he did something extraordinary to meet their needs. This doesn’t mean every time we go to the Lord, we will get something material, but it does mean that by the grace of God, He will meet our needs in his own way at his own time.
2) The exposure of a wrong motive: “Jesus answered: I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous loaves but you ate the loaves and had your filled.” (6:26)From the over 40 years in the ministry, I can share the mind or the ache of Jesus when he rebuked the crowd: You have come to me for all the wrong purposes. Throughout the 2,000 years of church history, untold number of people who entered the doors of God’s church all for wrong reasons no one may count. Come to see Jesus for food may not be bad, but certainly not right and not the best. The rebuke from the Lord serves us well if all of us take a look into our hearts and give God an answer: Why am I here? And what do I want from the Lord? Coming to God for wrong reasons is a pitiful loss anyone may suffer in his life.
3) The superior suggestion from Jesus: “Do not labor for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. On Him, God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” (6:27) Many preachers can develop a full sermon just on this one verse. Basically Jesus suggested that the right mind of coming to Him should not for any thing that is temporal in time and value. We may find temporal things to meet our worldly needs from other places. But only Jesus can provide the eternal needs to satisfy our empty souls. If your journey of faith doesn’t fill up your spiritual tank, you need to realign your heart on the right track. Listen to what Jesus told that Samaritan woman: “Jesus answered: Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring a water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
1) Don’t go just for free pizza: When you are hungry and tight of money, going to a presentation just for pizza is nothing wrong about. But a hiring presentation from a business is not for giving anyone free pizza. It is to draw people to the event so some of them may find jobs with that company for long term benefit: Make money that can buy all the pizzas of Pizza Hut made in any given day. God is much bigger and important to your life. Be sincere and be wise when you are dealing with God and His church. Get the best out of it with all your heart, mind and soul.
2) What do you want from God? If you are not a Jesus believer yet and you are here today, please ask yourself: What do I want from God? Have you had enough dealing with the world? Why don’t you try God and see what you may find out from Him and His church. Look inside your life and your heart, to find out. What is the most important thing you still don’t have? And ask Jesus to give you. Don’t leave this church without having Jesus walk out the building with you today.