Why Did God Give Us Our Most Basic Human Desires?

By Brian Lowther

If you’ve been tracking with the RWI for any length of time, I imagine you are the type of person whose deepest hope is to live a fruitful, meaningful life in view of the kingdom of God. But, do you ever struggle with the fact that you have other, more surface-level desires that often stand at odds with that deep hope? As an example, I have always wanted to own a jet pack. Just think of the traffic I could avoid! I also have a deep and abiding love of naps, palindromes, listening to my dad recount the events of a baseball game, and a very quiet part of me would love to spend a few leisurely years sailing around the Caribbean. These trifles make me feel quite happy. But what good is happiness if the real goal is God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, which is essentially a battle against darkness and evil? [1] Are all of these surface-level desires engineered in me by God’s enemy to divert me off course? Or has God instilled them in me for some good reason?

To answer, it goes without saying that Satan can corrupt our desires causing us to pursue them too far. The word for that is sin. But in this five-part series, I’ll assume that these desires at their root are good and programmed into us by God for a good reason. Specifically, I think his reason is to help us participate with him in bringing his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, which involves destroying the works of the devil. What follows are six of the most common human desires and how they help us participate in this task.

Why Did God Give Us a Desire for Survival?

PlantAsphalt.jpg

My most basic desire—in agreement with popular psychological theories like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—is survival. I desire food, water, rest, sanitation, hygiene, security, and safety.

It seems obvious how this desire would help me in the battle against evil. Without it, I would give up and end my life when I encountered hardships.

The will to live is remarkably strong. I witnessed my wife battle through a terrible case of morning sickness. For five months extreme nausea was her all-day companion, vomiting was the norm and eating was unthinkable. I was terrified that she would starve to death. We went to urgent care countless times for intravenous fluids. But somehow, she never gave up hope. And one day, she started to get better. Now we have two children, meaning she went through this ordeal twice. How do people survive such things? Or worse things, like concentration camps or human trafficking? Why is this desire to live so strong?

I think it is because God knew that at times, the enemy’s attacks could be grisly, heinous, and appalling. Our desire to survive must be proportionally tenacious.

Why Did God Give Us a Desire for Pleasure?

If my ability to survive is not threatened, my next immediate desire is pleasure. I desire solitude, amusement, thin-crust pizza, frequent trips to the beach, maybe a jet pack—and any number of other physical or aesthetic comforts.

I think pleasure has a two-fold purpose in the battle against evil. First it acts as our “leave” from active duty. It recharges us so we can rejoin the battle. Even in wartime, soldiers don’t fight a battle indefinitely. They must take leave on a regular basis, or risk losing their minds.

Second, pleasure acts as aspirin or morphine when we experience the pain and suffering of battle. Such as: 1) The physical pain of existence, e.g., injury, handicaps, disease; 2) The mental anguish from failures, burnout, rejection, conflicts, or loss; and 3) The emotional turmoil from doubts and fears which I believe are whispered into our psyches by the enemy as a form of psychological warfare (see here for more on this). I think of pleasure as a momentary escape from these forms of existential suffering.

In the next installment, I’ll tackle the question, why did God instill in many of us a desire for power?

Endnote

[1] I realize that the battle against evil is a main theme among other main themes in scripture. I fully embrace the idea that God’s original and ultimate plan was and is for us to dwell with him and his holy angels in harmony for an eternal future. However, in the mean time, the RWI seeks to explore and advocate a “warfare worldview,” partly because we feel it is underemphasized in the body of Christ today and partly because we think it will inspire new action. If you’re new to the RWI, see the following brief essays for an introduction to the warfare worldview:

  1. The Warfare Worldview           
  2. The Story of the Cosmic Conflict    
  3. Kingdom Mission So Far, in 500 Words
  4. Three Views to the Problem of Evil: View #3

Photo Credits: 
1.  Jetman: Ars Electronica/Flickr
2. Bindweed plant breaking through asphalt: Mark Dixon/Flickr
3. Strawberry Shortcake: Sonny Abesamis/Flickr

Brian Lowther is the director of the Roberta Winter Institute.

 

 

Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under Blog, Fourth 30.