In any basic psychology class one of the first concepts people are taught is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is a basic principle that people have needs and once one level of need is achieved we move up the ladder to the next level of need. The highest rung on the ladder is self-actualization. Self-actualization is completing all you think you should achieve or accomplish and being exactly where and what you want to be. But for the Christian the goal shouldn’t be self-actualization but Christ-actualization. We should not be striving to achieve all we want and think we should do. I guess in that sense the recent terrorist attack in Boston could be called an act of self-actualization because these guys achieved exactly what they wanted to do. I even read they were planning to come to New York city to celebrate their great accomplishment. As followers of Christ we shouldn’t be seeking our highest good or goal but we should be seeking Christ’s highest good or goal for our life. What is it that Christ wants me to do for Him and how can Christ be actualized in all we say or do?
Toward this end Paul writes in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians and tells us how to have a worthy walk (walk towards Christ – actualization). In the 2nd verse we read, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love (v.2, NASB). Humility as a virtue was introduced into the world by Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. Pagans understood humility as a vice (reserved for slaves) and pride as a virtue. This is still very much true in certain parts of the Middle Eastern world even today. Remember the Pharisee boasting in prayer in Luke’s gospel. One church father writes, “humility is the virtue by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness.” Humility comes from a proper self-awareness or Christ awareness that there is a divine standard and we fall far short of it. So let us follow Christ’s example in humbling oneself and surrendering our rights so we may more effectively serve one another.
The second part of our Christ-actualization is gentleness or meekness (in the King James). Gentleness is not weakness, timidity or cowardness but it is strength under control. It can be seen in a horse that has been broken and is now controlled by a little bit in its mouth. To cultivate the Spirit of the Lord in our lives means we serve with our strength and energy being guided by the Holy Spirit. Humility and gentleness are especially necessary if we are to understand our high spiritual calling and to walk in a worthy manner of that calling. Remember God has given us the greatness example in His son the Lord Jesus Christ of what humility and gentleness look like in real life. If we are to walk a worthy walk and experience Christ-actualization we need to be studying and striving to be more and more like Jesus Christ each and every day.
For Christ’s Service,
Pastor Rich Sivo