It’s nice to be needed. I really like knowing that my kids and my wife need me. They need me to do my job so we have a home and food, yes, but they also just need me to be present.
And I’m glad to do all I can for them. I’m glad I can to play Ninja Turtles and Transformers with my son whenever I have the opportunity. I’m grateful to read or walk or chat with my girls as much as I’m able. These things are not a burden to me, even if I can’t do them as much as I would like. But as much as I’m glad they need me, I’m grateful there’s one person who doesn’t:
Throughout the Scriptures—especially the Old Testament—God reminds us of this glorious (but often misunderstood) truth. He has no need for anything (Psalm 50:12). No one acts as his advisor (Isaiah 40:13). So self-sufficient is he that even his name, “I Am,” reminds us of this reality. He does not sit on his throne lacking anything, nor does he long for us to bring him something he does not already possess. Everything in the world (and the world itself) belongs to him.
Yet, this is where we have difficulty, even as Christians, isn’t it? Sometimes we have this need to be needed by God. Because we tend to value people by their utility, we assume God does as well. So, we feel a need to do something for God. We want try to pay him back for the grace he gives us through Christ. We feel like we have value only when we’re “doing” (and not always in the most extraordinary ways we can think of).
And certainly it’s right to have an active faith. To want to serve God with all our being. But there’s a difference between serving and trying to meet a need. The latter is impossible. But the former is rooted in thanksgiving. As Psalm 50:23 says, “Whoever sacrifices a thank offering honors me…”
That’s where the Christian life gets hard. And that’s what God is continually reminding me, almost every time I open the Bible. It’s easy to get my bearings mixed up. It’s easy to serve out of a sense of trying to meet a cosmic need. But that’s not what God wants from me (or from you, for that matter). All that we do is to flow from a thankful heart. A heart transformed by the grace given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Grace that gives us new hearts and new desires. But the habits we’ve all built up over a lifetime of sinning against him have left their mark. And because of that, thankfulness doesn’t come naturally.
So what do we do?
To remind ourselves of all God has done. To develop a thankful heart we have to keep telling ourselves the good news, over and over again. We need to keep reminding ourselves that God doesn’t “need” us to do anything for him, because God doesn’t need anything. And he gave us him whom he valued most—his son—to meet our greatest need.
That, to me, is liberating. Life-changing, even. At its heart, it’s the gospel.
It removes the shame of failing to meet our perceptions of God’s expectations. It releases us from the burden of trying to meet a need that doesn’t exist. It frees us to live and serve with a joyful and thankful heart. That is good news worth celebrating, friends. And it’s good news I don’t want to lose sight of, even for a second.
God doesn’t “need” me. And that’s a really good thing.