Aphorisms are everywhere, including Christian circles.  People love aphorisms because they are short and convey truths in a witty, memorable fashion.  The problem with aphorisms is that while they are intended to convey general truths, many people take them to be Gospel truth.  “All we need is God” is a popular Christian aphorism.  There is a lot of truth to this.  We need God more than anything else, and to the extent that this aphorism emphasizes that fact, it should be affirmed as true.  But if “all” is understood literally, so that it comes to mean that we have no need of anything other than God, then the aphorism is patently false.  Indeed, it is unchristian.  While we need God most of all, Scripture is quite clear that we also need people—particularly people of like precious faith.

God created humans as social beings, to be in community with other human beings.  That is why one of the greatest forms of punishment/torture is isolation.  It’s said that people who experience long periods of isolation literally begin to lose their mind.  We need people.  The need for community is not some defect in humanity resulting from the fall, either.  In the beginning, prior to the first act of sin, Adam desired a human companion.  When God presented Eve to him he exclaimed, “At last!” (Genesis 2:23)  Even God Himself concluded that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

“All you need is God” is often spoken as an encouragement to a brother or sister who is going through some trial or calamity.  While it’s true that we must primarily look to God for help in such times, this does not preclude the role other human beings play in helping us through difficult situations.  There is a felt difference between talking to God about one’s problems and concerns and talking to a fellow human being about the same.  Each provides us with a different sense of comfort.  We are comforted in prayer because we know God is concerned for our well-being, hears our prayers, and has the power to provide us with comfort or a solution to our problem.  But God doesn’t usually respond in words, and He cannot hug you.  People, however, can.  People can listen, empathize, express their love for you, offer words of encouragement, impart wisdom, offer you assurance that you are not alone, and hold you accountable.

According to Paul, God provides comfort to us in our trials so that we can provide comfort to others while they are going through similar trials: “[God] who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).  Paul’s advice was never “all you need is God” or “just pray about it.”  Instead—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say additionally—Paul instructed us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), and to “comfort the discouraged, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).  While God alone is sufficient for us, He never intended for us to look only to Him.  He intended for us to “bear one another’s burdens” as well. (Galatians 6:2)