There are two kinds of people in the world—those who are needy and those who are really needy. We all relate out of our neediness, some more evidently than others. Everyone that you have ever met in this world is needy. Maybe they didn’t need anything from you, but they all are needy. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when we imagine God, we imagine a God who is needy.
By needy I mean lacking. We all need love, acceptance, worth, peace. We have to get it somewhere. Even if we were raised in a peaceful family that poured out love, acceptance and worth on us, we still had to get it from them. None of us are independent. For me to be happy and fulfilled, I need you to be nice to me. I need you to encourage me. I need my kids to obey me in public. I need to have the right answer when the teacher calls on me. I need friends. I need someone to believe in me. I need you to like my facebook status. I need you to stop arguing. I need life to be fair. I need to have options. I need to be safe. I need you to respect me. I need you to notice me, when I do something great. I need you to still like me, when I screw it up. (That was just today!)
So what does God need? He needs our obedience. He needs our worship. He needs us to love Him. He needs our respect. He needs us to stop complaining. He needs us to be thankful for all He does. He needs us to be humble before Him. He needs us to stop arguing with Him. He needs us to not be angry at Him. He needs us to trust Him. He needs us to tell others about Him. He needs us to tithe to Him. He needs us to start our day talking to Him. He needs us to be light for Him. He needs us to cheer louder in worship than we do at a football game. He needs us to forgive. He needs us to be patient. He needs us to overcome sin. He needs us to read the Bible. I’m sure you can think of more.
Here’s the shocker. God doesn’t need any of that! We are familiar with “give/take” relationships, but God is into “give/give” relationships—He gives, then He gives some more. He is the great I AM. He is our creator. All things hold together in Him. He is LOVE. He doesn’t have love. He is love! He is self-sustaining, self-sufficient, independent, yet He’s not demanding.
Wait just a minute, Dale! Then why did he bring so much judgment on people. Haven’t you ever read the plagues of Exodus, or the curses and blessings of Deuteronomy, or the slaughter in Joshua and Judges? What about the judgment on Israel and Judah in the prophets? How can you say God’s not demanding?
Well, let’s take a look at the judgment of God in the Old Testament. Was He demanding? Absolutely. Was He loving? Definitely. If He is love, then why was He so judgmental? Throughout scripture two primary attributes of God are His holiness and His love. In the Old Testament, God’s holiness is regularly contrasted with man’s unholiness. There is a “Holiness Gap”. The Law was added because of our unholiness. (Gal. 3:19) Paul even says in Rom. 5:20 “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase.” The Law works as a mirror to reveal our sinfulness. It could never cleanse us of unrighteousness. (Gal. 2:21) We see Jesus bringing the full weight of the Law down upon those(the religious leaders) who claimed righteousness based on the Law. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:27,28 (No, He’s not equating the act of adultery with lust. He’s saying, “Even lust causes you to be judged under the Law.”) No one can escape the condemnation that the Law brings!
So we had this huge problem. We could not rest in God’s love, because His holiness cannot mingle with our unholiness. Whenever we see God’s judgment in the Old Testament, it is pointing out God’s holiness and our unholiness. We needed more than forgiveness; we needed to be transformed. Hebrews 10 tells us that the sacrifice system could not make us perfect(holy) because it couldn’t remove the consciousness of sin. God’s Law was not established out of His neediness, but out of His holiness.
But Jesus was a different sacrifice. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If now you are the righteousness of God in Christ, what does that do to the “Holiness Gap”? It’s gone! That’s why Paul says that we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. (Eph. 2:6) We can approach the throne of grace with confidence! (Heb 4:16)
With the “Holiness Gap” removed, we are free to experience all of God’s love. Every interaction with us is out of His perfect love. God initiated a way to resolve the “Holiness Gap”. It was His idea, not because He needs us, but because He desired to pour out His love on us with no restriction. In that, He is glorified. The maple trees in Tennessee have been in their glory this beautiful fall season. A runner is in his glory as he sets a new record. An arist is in her glory as her work is unveiled. Our God is in His glory as His lavish love is poured out unrestricted.
Being the infinite, self-sufficient God that He is, He has no needs. Being love, He will go to whatever measures are necessary to remove every obstacle that hinders His objects of love from experiencing “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Eph 3:18,19)