In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper describing his “Theory of Human Motivation.” It became known as the hierarchy of needs, with basic human needs such as food, shelter, and safety forming the base of the pyramid, while self- actualization—the desire to be all you can be—was the pinnacle. In 1969 Maslow revised his theory to add another step beyond self-actualization: self-transcendence. He thought that the self could truly be actualized only when it was focused on a higher goal outside itself, whether that be spiritual or philanthropic.
Maslow seems to have realized that the human search for purpose can never be fulfilled by looking within ourselves. Thankfully, in Christ we are part of God’s eternal purpose. We are part of something beyond ourselves, and this eternal purpose transforms our lives even now.
Notice some themes that we’ve seen in other Scripture readings: in Christ, we are part of one body and heirs of God (v. 6). And then we are given a glimpse of the wonderful purpose of God, of which we are blessed to be a part. Through the church—that is, believers in Christ—God is making His wisdom and ways known to the spiritual powers (vv. 10–11). Amazingly, God the Creator of the universe and the King of kings and the Savior of the world uses our lives and faith in Jesus as a testimony in the heavenly realm!
Not only are we part of God’s glorious purpose, we also receive blessings now. We can approach God in freedom and confidence (v. 12). We are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 16). We are able to know and grow in the boundless love of Jesus (vv. 17–19). How wondrous to be part of God’s body, the church, and have eternal purpose and His love “that surpasses knowledge.”
Apply the Word
Never think for a moment that your life is insignificant. You are part of God’s purpose, not just on earth but also in heaven before the spiritual powers! As a reminder, ask your friends, Sunday school class, or small group to commit to praying for each other using Paul’s words in verses 14 through 21. May we be strengthened in love for the glory of God!