- “God doesn’t actually need us to reflect him, we’re lucky that he has included us”
- “God the Creator of the universe could reveal his glory without us.”
- “We are all expendable before the Lord”
- “God doesn’t need you in order to accomplish his will on earth”
I want to first affirm what most Christians mean when we say things like this. We usually mean that we need to be humble and not arrogant in our life with God. We need to see God’s greatness and be honest about our sin and not think proudly about ourselves. We need to worship God as He is and not as we want to make Him out to be for our own sinful, selfish gains. I agree with that goal and think it is powerful for us to always be reminded that he is Creator God and that we are his creation. We need to remember that even though we fail and sin, God will remain true to his promise and will return one day to redeem all things and to raise us to life.
But while they may sound pious, I think more harm than good can be done with statements like those above. I want to challenge these and propose to you that I think God actually does NEED us.
I believe that God could have made a world where he didn’t need us at all, because he is God. But as I read the scriptures it seems to me that he chose to make a covenant with us and to appoint us as a people with a mission from the very beginning.
- He placed his image in us (Genesis 1.27)
- He asked us to be a blessing to all other people groups in the world (Genesis 12.3)
- He asked us to be a ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ for the world (Exodus 19.5-6)
- He asked us to declare peace and the good news that ‘our God reigns’ (Isaiah 52.7)
- He told us that we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5.13-16)
- He told us to “go into the world and preach the good news” (Matthew 28.19)
- He told us that we are his ‘masterpiece created to do good works’ (Ephesians 2.10)
- Jesus told us, “As the Father has sent me, now I am sending you” (John 20.21)
What Difference Does it Make?
You may be asking, “Ok, Marco, if you think we should change the way we talk about our purpose in the world, we can consider that. But what difference does it make in our real lives?” I think this is a very important question. If we really believe God’s word that he actually has called us to be his light in the world and that Jesus actually needs us to be his hands and feet to the world, we may see these 4 areas differently:
1. Prayer - If we believe that God really needs us to join him in the good that he is doing, we can pray like we mean it. If we really believed his word that prayer can affect and influence our world for good (James 5.17) and that God is looking for people to intercede with him (pray on behalf of others), we would not be so quick to say, “Oh well, whatever happens is just God’s will anyway” and we might be people who would join him in prayer. Don’t be fooled to think that your prayers are just cute anecdotes and sayings that don’t really make a difference. (And if your prayers really ARE just little cute anecdotes and sayings: then ask God to help you grow up and start praying things that really matter for his kingdom).
2. Evangelism - If we believe that God really needs us to share his gospel message, we can more lovingly and more seriously obey his words to “preach the good news to all nations.” (Matthew 28.19) Sometimes we get lazy on this and say, “I don’t want to be pushy or disrespectful of people’s beliefs so I’ll just wait till they ask me about Jesus and then I’ll have them talk to my pastor.” If we took our calling seriously, we would believe that God needs all of us to be his light wherever we are and that he can use us to change the course of someone’s life who needs to know about Jesus’ love.
3. Holiness - Holiness is not arrogance. It is living distinctly for God. It is choosing to live according to his word and not according to the status quo of our world and culture. If we would believe that God actually wants us to keep ourselves from the pollution of sin in our world (James 1.27) we could take more seriously our call to live lives that reflect God in how we use power, money, sex, food, drink, relationships and words. Don’t be fooled to think God doesn’t need you to live a holy life for him. Don’t be fooled to think that because God forgives our sin, it must mean that he’s ok with the sinful patterns in our lives. The way you and I live has the power to influence others for his kingdom and to give witness to his grace. Let God’s grace begin to change you towards living a holy life for him. (1 Peter 3.18)
4. Service - James 1.27 tells us that true religion that God wants is for us to abstain from the sin of our world AND for us to look after those in need and to serve them. When we believe that God really needs us to practice our true religion, we begin to get a hold of his mission for serving people in our world with our actions, talents, time and money. When we come to see that he is on a mission to serve others and that he needs us to join him, we can then take more seriously the call to serving our world. Of course, many good, non-religious people serve others in our world, and I think God loves that they do this. But you and I have the highest reason and motivation to serve. Because Christ has first loved us, so now we can love and serve others. We shouldn’t serve others just because it helps us feel better about ourselves, or because its trendy to say you serve somewhere, or because we might get a tax break; we should serve because we understand that God has chosen to use his church as his main vehicle of love and care for our hurting world.
So the next time someone says to you, “God doesn’t really need me.” How will you respond? Hopefully, it will be with a good affirming conversation and you can grow together in thinking about how our lives can grow in living for him. Let’s live this day, as people who know that God in his mercy has chosen us and needs us to reflect his love, justice and holiness to your world!