Why being wanted is better than being needed.
Back when I was a college pastor living in Gainesville, Florida, I had the privilege of hosting and ministering alongside a remarkable missionary from Vietnam. This man was a pillar of faith! In his late 70’s and suffering from Multiple Sclerosis for years, he had comforted dying street children in his arms and washed the feet of real, modern-day lepers.
Known as Uncle Charlie, this man had built an orphanage and outreach ministry to the street children of Ho Chi Min City. Under communism, he had smuggled Bibles into the country for the underground church and now spent his days preparing and delivering peanut butter sandwiches to all his “kids”. When he spoke to my students, I remember how he pushed himself slowly around in his walker and laid hands and blessed the young people hungry for a word of encouragement.
This great man once lamented to me about the attitude of many of the ministers he came across in the United States. He noticed that far too many acted as if God needed them and their great talents.
He leaned in: “AJ, always remember: God doesn’t need you. You need God.”
I’ve found this to be a true saying.
God does not need you.
In other words, you do not impress God. You’re not that big of a deal. God is not (and never will be) awestruck by your gifts, talents, skill-sets, religious effort and/or achievements. And to act as if God needs you belies a considerable amount of self-importance—I’m obviously pretty impressed with myself when I secretly think, deep down somewhere, “You know, God should be pretty happy to have someone as great as me.”
It’s pride. And pride never ends well.
The truth is when we travel along the path of pride we end up in one of two places: feeling like we’re awesome, or feeling like we stink. Really high or really low. I’m amazing… I suck.
Back and forth we go— arrogance and despair become the vicious cycle of religion. I’m amazing: it’s time to judge everybody else! Oh no, I’m terrible: I’m the worst person ever. Yah, God is impressed with me! Oops, oh no. God thinks I’m an idiot!
Ever feel trapped in this cycle?
Here’s the good news:
God doesn’t need you, but He does WANT you!
He never intended for you to impress Him. God is not some secret admirer from afar; He’s a loving father looking down into the eyes of His child. He’s an up-close and personal God. He’s intimate.
God will settle for nothing less than intimacy. He wants relationship. He wants you.
He’s not content to sit back at a distance and let you try to impress him— He doesn’t want you out there performing for Him, He wants you close. Don’t you see? The merry-go-round of religion has too much relational distance for God’s taste. He’s intimate. He’s intense. He’s a father who will not stop with a pat on the back— He’s coming in for a hug. God’s not interested in feeding your ego, He wants to feed your soul with affirmation and love.
Why would we seek to impress God when we can be loved by God?
Don’t short-change yourself! God gave up His very own Son so that we could be loved. Jesus died so we could be counted as sons and daughters. So we could know God as Father.
Embrace the call to be a son or daughter. To be loved like a son or daughter. Don’t settle for the lonely and empty path of pride and religion.