“If you were the only person on a desert island, and could only take three things with you, what would they be?”
This is probably the most loved but overused go-to question of every childhood party since the 1980’s.
My experience with the game was probably the same as yours.
Once joke and ‘loophole’ answers were out the way, reasonable responses included survival essentials like water or a lighter, and personal items like family pictures or a favourite toy. Sometimes even a favourite pet made the list.
Other kids claimed they’d just ‘live it up till the end’, and list possible candies, ‘last meals’ or spectacularly unaffordable things to enjoy their inevitable final island days.
As funny as these lists were, the fact they didn’t change much as we grew older is even more hilarious, even a little disturbing. The toys just became bigger and ‘necessities’ only slightly less superficial.
One study in the UK put the island question to around 500 adults*. Most of the responses revealed five things people placed a high premium on:
1. Devices to keep updated
2. Things to help feel comfortable
3. Reading material
4. Forms of entertainment
5. Means of communicating with others.
For Christians, as valuable as these things can be, Jesus never mentioned one of them as being absolutely essential to the ‘abundant’ life He came to give us.
He only ever mentioned one thing as being ‘needed’ in this life:
While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke chapter 10, verses 38-42)
The one necessary thing in this story was so simple we often pass right over it. After all, how can just ‘sitting at Jesus’ feet’ be so crucial? Surely what Mary was doing was nothing profound!
Jesus knew differently, and in that one moment elevated Mary’s actions above nearly everything else His closest disciples ever did.
The one ‘needed’ thing Mary did was about as straightforward as you can possibly get: she spent time with Jesus. We can simplify it even more in light of what it teaches us today: the only essential thing in the Christian life is prayer.
Above everything else, spending time with Jesus in prayer is the one thing by which every other blessing in life lives and breathes. This is because Christ not only gives us life but He is our life (Colossians chapter 3, verse 4). We not only depend on prayer for our life with Jesus, but fellowship with Him is itself the very nature and fullness of the life He came to give us.
This makes total sense when we look back at man’s beginnings in the Garden of Eden. The book of Genesis shows humanity was made to live with its creator, and that the bliss of Eden was a result of God’s presence.
The only perfectly ‘abundant’ life in human history happened in full and unbroken communication with God. This happened right up till Adam and Eve chose what they wanted—what they thought they ‘needed’—over fellowship with God. So their closeness with God became a hiding from Him, then an island of their own making when they were banished from Eden.
Although we’ve been redeemed, that same island stands today because we still think we know what’s best for our existence, despite how those things draw us away from Jesus.
We try so hard to replicate Eden by striving to create ‘perfect’ lives, but often fail to remember what Adam and Eve also forgot: the only necessity in life isn’t creating an Eden of our own design (which is impossible because of sin), but a fellowship with God.
So let me ask you the cliché party question once again, only this time reflect on the fact that we’re already living on an island of our own making…
What’s the one thing we need?
Globelink International – ‘3 Things People Would Take To a Desert Island’:
Tim’s home till last year was on the Gold Coast in Australia. He now lives in Minnesota, America. He has a Graduate Associate of Theology degree, completed a year of Masters of Divinity in Theology, and has just over six years teaching experience in Christian Education. He enjoys being a Youth Pastor, Christian writing, and spending time with friends.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html