WORLD’S GREATEST PROBLEM

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If I asked you to name the world’s greatest problem many would probably mention satan. Some would mention sin, death, sickness, or even pain. What if I told you that insecurity is the greatest problem of humankind? The problem is older than humans themselves. Insecurity gunned down satan, a host of angels as well as our ancestors Adam and Eve. According to the scriptures all evil – be it political, environmental, spiritual, relational, or socio-economic – is rooted in insecurity (1 Timothy 6:10).

 Now, what is insecurity all about? 

Insecurity is a condition of being convinced that who you are or what you have is inadequate. Insecure people tend to fall prey to unrealistically high standards of self, as a result, they always feel substandard, unlovable, hopeless, or useless. It’s a sense that self-worth – despite reality proving the contrary – is inadequate unless you conform to certain standards.

Insecurity stems out of what psychologists describe as social comparison theory. According to Festinger, (1954) social comparison is rooted in our innate drive to enhance our self-worth by being the same as or better than others. Festinger argues that most of us try to satisfy this drive in two ways, firstly by upward comparison -associating ourselves with those who we believe to be better than us or by disassociating ourselves from others who we perceive to be worse off than us (also known as a downward comparison).

Inferiority has nothing to do with status; it is about how you feel about your status. That’s why inferiority affects all kinds of people – the rich, the poor, the beautiful, men, women, black, white, and all in between.

Another word for chronic insecurity is greed. Greed must not be mistaken with a desire for a genuine dependency need. If it’s not a need, then it’s merely wanted or, using an economic term, an artificial demand (AD). The basic concept behind AD is the act of creating a consumer want for the product they wouldn’t have purchased otherwise (Strange, 2015).

In artificial demand, people may not need or want the product, but they get enticed by brand advertising and reduced offers because sellers want to sell more, gain market share, and get richer. Artificial demand encourages more spending and cluttering people’s lives. The term artificial demand is why people over-consume and lose sight of what’s important to them.

Insecurity makes us think we are inadequate while, in reality, we aren’t. Greed is an addiction; a psychological disorder that makes us constantly crave the unnecessary. I call this chronic artificial demand syndrome (CADS). Greed is a psychological equivalent of Prader-Willi Syndrome – a chronic feeling of hunger that results in excessive eating and life-threatening obesity. Greed often leads to a potentially lethal excessive acquisition of superfluous wealth, power, and status.

 The Symptoms

The symptoms of greed include selfishness, anger, envy, fear, guilt, and hatred. But the most decisive (and often overlooked) of the symptoms is a shame. Shame was the first consequence of Edenic sin. In Genesis 2:25 the Bible records, “… the man (Adam) and his wife (Eve) were both naked, but they felt no shame.” But after eating the forbidden fruit, seven verses later in Genesis 3:7 we read, “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves”.

The shame was not a problem, but, as mentioned, a symptom of an underlying problem. Their newly found “wisdom” gave them the license to question God’s moral integrity of not supplying them with clothes. The truth is that God did not provide them with clothes because He knew they did not need them. Even after they had eaten the fruit still there was no need for clothing because nothing had changed (externally at least); after all, they were but two of them in the garden. Madness is the only fitting explanation as to why they were ashamed of their nakedness. It looks like they were running from their shadows.

Greed cannot be satisfied. After attaining one goal greed sets another goal. Once we’re under the influence of greed we fail to appreciate even the most obvious bliss around us. Eve and her husband were living the best life possible – the perfect weather, the best food, the gold, the excellent environment, other luxuries, and above all God Himself was their Father and Pastor! Nevertheless, Eve was not satisfied, she wanted to be like God Himself, and dragged her husband into it. This is how lives are destroyed. Eve tried to blame the devil for her failure, but God was having none of it.

The devil was just exploiting Eve’s greed; the same weakness that spectacularly failed him many years before.

Before his downfall, Satan (formally called Lucifer, meaning, ‘morning star’) was a magnificent being with a unique ministry. He was created by God to be the angel of worship, one whose ministry surrounded the heart of heaven. Lucifer was supposed to dwell eternally in the throne room of heaven, in the very presence of God. To reside in the awesome presence of a perfect and holy God, Lucifer had to be perfect. According to Ezekiel 28:13, he was an amazing being to behold: he was the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect dazzling beauty. He was located in Eden, the garden of God radiating light and glory. He was covered with gold and every precious stone. Yet Lucifer was not happy. According to Isaiah’s testimony, Lucifer said,” I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be just like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:13-14). The rest, as people say, is history.

Greedy acquisitions are as destructive as they are needless. When Adam and Eve sought to meet their ‘artificial demand’ not only did they stop doing their destined productive activities, they also engaged in an environmentally destructive practice of cutting down trees. When Lucifer fell the world on which he landed was utterly destroyed.

As mentioned already, insecurity stems from comparison, you must have a benchmark – a standard or point of reference. Greedy people always feel abnormal. The word normal means conforming to a standard. Natural (spiritually uncivilized) mind is forced into conforming to a mold that depicts what we should look like and what we should do – anything that sits on the margins is simply discarded. People are therefore forced to conform because they wish to be accepted.

But “normal” is relative. It can be different things to different people at different times. The idea of ‘normal’ is injected into our minds by our experiences, parents/family, school or other institutions, friends, the media, etc. The media have and always will place pressure on both men and women alike to look a certain way, behave a certain way, or have certain things.

The cure

Contentment that stems from the love of God is the opposite of greed. Perceiving that God created us the way we are because He loved us fills us with happiness. It makes us satisfied with who we are and with what we have at any particular stage. Apostle Paul said, “… godliness with contentment is itself great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6). Contentment does not mean mystical or socio-economic lethargy – not wanting to aspire for better things in life. By blending contentment with godliness (reverence to God and His will) Paul meant we should be content with God’s will for us.

Insecurity creeps in when we deviate from God’s will. But when we synchronize our aspirations with God’s purpose, we become fulfilled. In other words, we must be happy with where God has positioned us, be prepared to accept a temporal set back if He allows, or ascend to a higher level when God calls us to do so. Accepting a lesser status than the one God has subscribed – due to fear or otherwise – is, using a biblical term, sin.

God’s commitment to mankind is to give and supply their desires. God not only creates our desires (causes us to desire), but He also fulfills them. God knows all our needs because He is our Creator and He is committed to meet them because He loves to. (Psalms 37:4, Jeremiah 29:11). God is committed to meet every need He creates and creates only the needs He’ll be committed to meet. If we truly need it He will supply. If He hasn’t supplied we don’t need it.

God’s will ought to be our benchmark. We have nothing else to square with, look down on, look up to, or compete against. Our duty should be tantamount to keeping pace with His will, not too fast or too slow. We should always be grateful for what He provides, go where He wants us to go, and aspire to be what He says we should be. If God instructs us to jump the only question we should ask is, “How high, Lord?”

Reference:

Festinger, L., (1954). “A theory of social comparison processes”. Human Relations. 7 (2): 117–140. doi:10.1177/001872675400700202.

Strange, A., ( 2015). “Why Apple Loves Gold”. Mashable. Retrieved June 24, 2020.

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