God Doesn’t Need You, Slacker
Last week I slunk into a chair, cappuccino in hand to chat with area pastors about lessons learned through church planting. As dialogue flowed, a common phrase I hear often uttered by my Reformed friends darted from the lips of several pastors: “God doesn’t need you.” Now I understand what my fellow clergymen were trying to communicate. I’ve often peppered my congregation at BLDG 28 and potential church planters with this exact mantra.
When taken Biblically – as the pastors around this table no doubt intended – it is a self-deflating, God-exalting attestation of the Sovereign’s independence. Truly the only fully autonomous, self-sustaining entity is the universe is God. He doesn’t need your permission to act. He doesn’t need your submission to save. He doesn’t need you at all. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need. Understood Biblically, this humbling doctrine draws us back to radical dependence on the Divine and should propel us forward on gut-wrenching, nail-clawing, knee-bending mission for Him.
Sadly though, for many Christians, this declaration is not Biblically understood or applied. Instead it is a fatalistic theological expression that gives life to a non-God-glorifying pseudo Calvinism. “God doesn’t need you!” misunderstood leads to inactivity in ministry, unwillingness in evangelism, excuses when challenged, and even derision of those laboring diligently for the kingdom as if they somehow stupidly surmise that God does need them.
Now I could easily recline in my robust perspective of God’s unrivaled sovereignty, whimsically stating that “He doesn’t need me in dealing with this growing fatalism,” and I’d be right, in so far as dependency goes. What I would miss is that by His sovereign hand He chooses to use those He doesn’t need (you and I) to accomplish His decreed purposes in bringing sons and daughters to glory, in building His church (both universal and local), in correcting false doctrine, in calling folks to repentance, and in nearly every other avenue of Christianity. In fact, I would go so far as to say that while God doesn’t NEED us, He does not save without us! Ever met someone who was converted without hearing the Gospel proclaimed? Even the very Word we hold in our hands was Holy Spirit preserved through the ardor and meticulous translation of those God didn’t need.
So, don’t you dare allow anyone – yourself included – to use the Biblical truth that God doesn’t need you as an excuse for unfaithfulness. We are at war. The kingdom of darkness must be pushed back. God could eradicate the darkness with a blink of His eye. He could snatch souls from the fire with a whisper from His lips. But He has graciously chosen to wrap us into His causality as soldier-missionaries to combat the kingdom of darkness and roll forward the kingdom of light.
Therefore, DO the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). LABOR in prayer (Col. 4:12). FIGHT the fight of faith 1 Tim. 6:12). MORTIFY the lazy, lifeless, self-excusing, self-exalting deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13). WALK worthy (Eph 4:1). This is what God has ordained. This is what pleases Him: not fatalism, but faithfulness. Not slackers, but stewards.