In less than a 24 hour window, I was accosted twice by the phrase, “God doesn’t need us.” Ouch; those words seem a little harsh when you come right out and say them. In light of a culture that emphasizes the need to achieve, impress, and succeed, many believers struggle to face the concept that God doesn’t need us. Churches try to emphasize to believers that not only is God not impressed by us, but that there is also nothing we can offer to God that would valuably contribute to His masterful Kingdom plan. I understand where teachers are going with this philosophy, but I believe that the wrong points are being stressed; and therefore, believers are being left with a tainted and less than loving picture of God.
Yes, it is true that God is the King, Lord Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too great or small for Him. God is the self-existent, self-sustaining one. While we and all of creation have an origin, God does not. God always was and always will be. There is nothing that God needs in order to sustain His existence, and there is nothing that He needs in order to propagate His will. God is God; that is His nature, but what about His character?
1 John 4:8 gives us a complete and very profound understanding of the character of God. “God is love.” But God is not a pop culture, American kind of love. No. God is a sacrificial, unrelenting, passionate kind of love. He’s the kind of love that would give absolutely everything for the object of His adoration. 1 John 3:16 tells us exactly what kind of love God is, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”
You see, while it is true that God doesn’t need us in the sense that we in some way contribute to His existence, God does need us in the sense that we might say, “I need my spouse.” When the King of kings came to earth in human flesh and died a God-forsaken death for us, He wasn’t saying “I can’t exist without you.” God was saying, “I don’t want to exist without you.” God in a sense was saying, “I want you so desperately that it feels like a need. If death is where you are, then that is where I’ll go. I don’t want to live without you.”
Believers think that saying God needs someone or something belittles His power or demeans His authority in some way. But there is something supremely more awesome about a King who chooses to exercise His power in the way that God does. 1 Corinthians 1 says, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (v. 18 & 25) These are not just some nice-sounding words we find in scripture. Paul even says in verse 17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” God’s Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); therefore, the way God reveals His power is not the way that we might think. God’s power is found in the cross—radical, self-sacrificial love and the desire for us to become one with Him—that is the power of God. God is not vulnerable by nature, but because of His loving character, He chooses to become vulnerable. God laid His heart on the line when He created human beings with free will. He gave us the ability to choose something other than Him, but He also gave us the choice to partner with Him. God wants us to participate in manifesting His Kingdom through work and prayer. God wants to take delight in our existence and the things we achieve for His Kingdom. God wants us to choose Him above everything else. God wants us to love Him the way that He loves us. God wants to need us. And that is a very powerful statement, indeed.