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Friday, January 15, 2010

Polar Opposites

A reader of this blog had difficulty with my use of the word “actualization” in connection with the Kingdom of God last week.

She had no problem with the idea that God’s Kingdom is “realized” when people align themselves with God’s will. But the phrase “Kingdom actualization” didn’t fly. My use of the term seemed to contradict the truth of the Kingdom’s present reality. After all, the Kingdom is “actual” whether people align themselves with it or not.

True. The Kingdom is reality, whether people align with it or not. It is an “actual” Kingdom, and not dependent upon humans to be “actualized.”

But there is a reason I use the phrase “Kingdom actualization.”

If you google “self actualization,” you will find many references to this term as it is used by psychologists. It was first coined by Kurt Goldstein to describe “the motive to realize all of one's potentialities.” It described the “master motive” of a person, or “the only real motive a person has."

The term “self actualization” was later popularized by Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist who included the term in his so-called “hierarchy of needs” theory. “Self actualization” is “the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are fulfilled and the ‘actualization’ of the full personal potential takes place.” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_actualization.)

Every college freshman taking Psychology 101 learns about Maslow’s theory of “self actualization.” But Maslow’s theory is secularized to the core. God has no honored place in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As the very term “self actualization” connotes, "it's all about me.”

I’m of the opinion that the highest of all human needs is not “self actualization of human potential,” but “Kingdom actualization of God’s will being done through us.” This is what “Kingdom actualization” is about. It's all about Him. His Kingdom is what we "seek first" (Matthew 6:33).

Along with “Kingdom actualization” comes the amazing realization of why God created us, how we fit into His design for our lives, and His reason for sustaining our next breath.

The term “Kingdom actualization” and the term "self actualization" are polar opposites. I'm using the former to supplant the latter.

"Kingdom actualization" may not make it into psychology books, but it makes more sense to me than Maslow's idea ever did.

"Self-actualization" rings hollow.

“Kingdom actualization” is humanity's highest need, privilege and joy.

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2 comments:

  1. Christian,
    It would seem to me that another way of saying the same thing would be to "experience" the kingdom of God--the rule of Jesus Christ. While it is true that Jesus now rules over heaven and earth since his resurrection and ascension, the church has yet to extend taht rule "from pole to pole" as it carries out its mandate to "attack the gates of Hell."

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  2. While at your blog I saw this mention of Maslow's hierarchy of motivational needs. I use this tool a lot with clients. Actually I have a simpler that uses the term "eternal perspective" where Maslow uses "self-actualization." However, the idea is the same. And the idea is that when a human being comes to the place he or she realizes the highest possible purpose of his or her life, that purpose always has to do with service to others. That's perhaps as close as Maslow ever got to acknowledging Christ. But as Christians we certainly understand that the Kingdom of God is characterized by service to others

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