Does God need us or not?

Published 6:21 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

By Jake McCall

Following our service this past Sunday, one of our church’s most attentive listeners disagreed with something I said. Maybe not in complete opposition, but she disagreed nonetheless. It was according to this statement that I made: “God doesn’t really need us.”

I made this proposition based on the creation account in Genesis 1 and the fact that God didn’t create mankind until day 6, after He had done everything else.
My point was to emphasize God’s power and self-sufficiency and that ministry opportunities are a gift. Throughout the day on Sunday I had two other people comment regarding that statement and found it thought-provoking. Because this statement was being considered by some and perhaps not sitting well with others, I began to think through if and how it may need clarity.

I spend a lot of time thinking about and reading about who God is. I don’t do this for empty philosophical reasons or for simple reasons of interest. I do this because I believe that knowing who God really is affects everything about me, including my eternal destiny. I also believe that what I communicate about God affects people in my church and also it is very likely that God could use that to have an impact on their eternal destiny. I am very moved by the majesty and glory of God. I believe that He alone should be praised and even though I am a sinful, prideful person, I know that we are never worthy of the praise that is due to the Lord. I hope and pray this will always be the focus of my preaching, teaching and worldview. As John the Baptist says in John 3:30 as he is exalting Christ, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

However, when going over the statement that “God doesn’t really need us,” I realized I was wrong in saying that. Did God need us to create the world? No. Does God need us to carry out His redemptive purposes? The answer should be Yes! Yes, He needs us to complete this work. And this is more than just, “Well God will let us have opportunities to do things for Him and if we don’t then He will step in and accomplish these things without us.” That is not a biblical way to understand our responsibility as God’s people.

This should not be a prideful understanding of our place and role in God’s Kingdom, and if it becomes this way we should gain a humble understanding that God could have chosen to carry out His purposes in whatever way He pleased. He could have chosen to make you and me a non-essential, unnecessary part of His overall eternal plan. He could have decided that He didn’t need us, but early on in the Bible we see that His accomplishing of things was through people like Noah, Abraham Moses, and then Isaiah, Jonah and the Apostles.

So this is what I see in the Bible – in Genesis 1 and 2, God created all things and chose for us not to have anything to do with that. But Genesis 3 through Revelation 22 is about redemption and in that story He has chosen you and me, sinful and weak people, to be a part of this and that will never change.

Now I realize that I have to be careful here because God is sovereign and will not be bound by our disobedience, laziness or pride. It is also true that He has given no saving power to you or me. Jesus Christ alone can save and He is my only hope for my own salvation and my only hope for your salvation.

God’s sovereignty is intended to give us hope, compassion, and pursuit for the lost and needy. It is never to be an excuse to be uninvolved in what God is doing.

Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is pastor of Grace Fellowship in Clanton.