back of Jesus on cross

Lie:      I don’t need God.

Truth: Believe me, we need God.

There is practically nothing that men do not prefer to God. A tiresome detail of business, an occupation utterly pernicious to health, the employment of time in ways one does not dare to mention. Anything rather than God. — Francis Fénelon

You may be thinking, ‘Sure, I need God for my eternal future, to get my sins taken care of, to help me make the big decisions in life, but beyond that, to be honest, I really don’t need God.’

Maybe we wouldn’t actually admit that, or we may be a little afraid to, but truth be told, our lifestyles betray our true beliefs more than our words. And if we’re honest many Christians live in such ways that arrogantly claim, ‘I’m really fine on my own.’ By our prayerlessness, our neglect of his Word, our unwillingness to be honest with our own weaknesses and sins, our neglect of our neighbor, in all these ways we speak.

I’m not talking about being super-spiritual here, where every other word is ‘praise the Lord’ or demons hide in every corner. I’m talking about building a life characterized by deeds: speaking truth, loving neighbors and enemies, serving and forgiving others and doing it all in the name of Christ, not as a ‘nice person.’ In this kind of life, words are fewer but also more potent.

I’ll break this down into two parts:

  • Why we need God
  • Why we think we don’t need God

A.  Why we need God . . .

A1  Because he is the source and sustainer of all life.

Without God no life would or could exist, including our own. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. The theory of evolution is a grand hoax and does not explain the origins of life anyway. It tries to describe the development of life, but does not say how life came to be in the first place. And we now know that life is no trivial matter; it’s much more complex that Darwin ever knew. In all its many forms: insect, animal, plant and even the lowly bacteria, life is extremely complex and interconnected. It is the mystery of all mysteries and inescapably reveals the design and work of the Creator God.

A2  Because life is fundamentally a connectedness to God.

Life is connectedness, first to God, then to others. The visible life that we have in our bodies is an absolute mind-boggling display of interconnected systems, all working harmoniously. Life is truly life lived together.

When Adam and Eve sinned they were immediately banished from the garden and from their access to the Tree of Life. They could not have both life and death. God had warned them, “ . . . on the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die.”

Our need for God is so fundamental, so integral to our life, that we can easily it’s exclusively our own. Life itself then, in all its myriad of forms: plant, insect, animal and human, is designed and flows from the mind and hand of God himself. It is inseparable from him. At the risk of sounding pantheistic (the big lie that God is everything), you could almost say that life is God.

To life!

Many people have tried to define life, but its full expression continues to elude us. We’ve tried to define it as a functioning, a multiplying, as an intelligence of DNA, etc, but we all sense deeply that the stuff of life is a mystery beyond man. Man continues to try to capture it, control it, create it, but has – so far – only managed to produce a dead, crude copy.

A3  Because without God we have no meaning or purpose.

Because God is the Author of Life, he is the one, the only one, who determines its meaning and purpose, its definition and direction. In addition to the profound glory of their being, God formed each kind of life with a specific function and placed each one in sustaining symbiotic ecosystems. Animals feed on other animals and plants; plants feed on the nutrients of the soil, microbes break down the soil and provide digestion and nutrition to the animals.

God formed you in his image, as a carer, that is, as a responsible one to care and cultivate the created order, to build and to plant, and create habitable orders where people, animals and plants could live and flourish harmoniously in love. So God created us with mental powers to imagine, think, design and plan; he created us with powers of speech to communicate and relate; he created us with physical powers to build and plan; and he created us with reproductive powers to take and sustain benevolent dominion, ultimately over the whole earth.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” — Genesis 1:26–28

A life disconnected from God is a life adrift and without meaning.

B. Why we think we don’t need God . . .

B1  Because we’ve substituted God with some lesser, transcendent reality.

Many good transcendent, mystical realities exist, such as music or nature or the cosmos or our ‘Idea of God’ (as opposed to the actual, living God). Everyone knows that they are part of something bigger. But many have settled for an impersonal, unthinking, uncaring thing, rather than a transcendent, personal, caring God.

Today, science promotes quantum physics – quarks, muons, etc – what is said to be the basic building blocks of the universe. The Large Hadron Particle Accelerator in Switzerland was built to discover these particles and how they behave, and to hear some of the proponents of this science, you would think they’re describing a religion.

Jason Silva, a popular young transhumanist philosopher, articulately conveys the sentiment:

Awe: “an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it.” . . .

There’s a great book called The Wondering Brain.
It says that one of the ways that we elicit wonder is by scrambling the self temporarily so that the world can seep in.

You know Henry Miller says, “even a blade of grass when given proper attention becomes an infinitely magnificent world in itself.” You know, Darwin said “attention, if sudden and close, graduates into surprise; and this into astonishment; and this into stupefied amazement.”

That’s what rapture is. That’s what illumination is. That’s what that sort of infinite comprehending awe that human beings love so much . . . Only in these moments, we experience afresh, the hardly bearable ecstasy of direct energy exploding on our nerve endings. This is the rhapsodic, ecstatic, bursting forth of awe that expands our perceptual parameters beyond all previous limits, and we literally have to reconfigure our mental models of the world in order to assimilate the beauty of that download! . . . . We fit the universe through our brains and it comes out in the form of nothing less than poetry. We have a responsibility to awe.[1]

This rhapsodic praise to the ‘universe’ is nothing short of worship. If you see the YouTube video in its entirety you’ll see that God is not mentioned once. This amounts to a sophisticated reboot of pantheism, the false religion that teaches everything is God, where the creature is worshiped, rather than the Creator (see Romans 1:25).

B2  Because we’ve lost our awe of him.

We must not underestimate the value and necessity of awe of God. A proper awe of him should be the backdrop to practically every word, deed, attitude and relationship. Without it we grow proud, self-sufficient, uncaring and undisciplined. Conversely, if awe properly governs our lives, we grow in the opposite direction.

We lose our awe when we effectively replace it by some other corresponding transcendent thing. Awe is ‘naturally’ produced by first-hand exposure and dependency/vulnerability to the natural order. When we’re regularly exposed to the natural world, and to our own vulnerability to it, we humbly take our place in his kingdom. Awe is not ‘self-generated.’ We cannot artificially self-generate an authentic awe of God; rather, it is a response to God, his work, his word and his ways.

baby in awe

Man’s systems obviously conflict and compete with this dynamic. Systems such as insurance (of all kinds, but especially health insurance), just-in-time food manufacturing and distribution, welfare systems, banking and credit systems, security systems, and many other protections insulate us from the harsh realities of the world. These systems now replace what was once provided by the local community. What once drove the building of the local community – the need for food, ‘welfare,’ disaster recovery, etc, now exists only in small pockets, or not at all, at least in the developed world.

That’s not to say that any one of these protection systems is a bad thing. But we should honestly evaluate their cumulative effect. Cumulatively these systems could become a massive, idolatrous system of systems that drains us of our awe.

Awe is reserved for God alone. It is a holy thing, not due to anything or anyone else.

I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images. — Isaiah 42:8

It almost goes without saying, yet deserves to be emphasized anyway – awe of God: the sincere attitude of worship, is fundamental to our walk. The first two of the Ten Commandments highlight the importance of awe.

‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. — Deuteronomy 5:6–10

Unless we reserve and preserve God’s rightful and exclusive place, we simply forfeit the true worship of God to some impostor deity. We will worship something. But God is a jealous God, he will not share our devotion, our worship, our awe with anyone or anything else. And he will not share it for our own good.

Of course, we will experience ineffable moments of awe, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, seeing a bald eagle soar, our daughter’s first smile. All these are awesome moments, but if we’re properly related to God, we will recognize them for what they really are: marvelous, but imperfect reflections of their source – the glory of God.

B3  Because we imagine that we no longer have any serious vulnerabilities.

Although this reason is integrally related to the loss of awe, I list it separately because it’s important to highlight as the opposite side of the coin. This reason that we think we don’t need God is an illusion whereas the loss of awe is real. We normally think of vulnerabilities as something bad or wrong, something to be corrected, but this is simply not true. When we embrace our weaknesses we become more human, more honest, more relatable. Though no one wants to admit their weaknesses, we’re all secretly relieved when someone does because they’ve just given us permission to quit our own pretense.

flower in rain

Paul give us his attitude toward his weaknesses:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:7–10

B4  Because we’ve subtly been secularized.

In short, we think we don’t need God because he apparently is absent or has been removed from the conversation, marginalized, redefined or re-categorized (yet God transcends all categories), to the point that we don’t think of him at all. It’s as if the word and concept of ‘God’ has been erased. How can we need something that we don’t know or don’t remember even exists, that is, for our real, everyday lives?

The primary ways that Christians think of God in normal life is within a religious context – at church or in our devotional life (if one exists at all), but not in the real world of raising kids, buying groceries or doing homework. God has been shoved into his own ghetto.

George Orwell, in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), spoke of this time:

[Syme speaking to Winston] “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.”[2] [emphasis mine]

We spend our days going about blending into the popular culture, making decisions, buying things, eating, drinking, working, watching TV and making merry, all with only the slightest tip of the hat to God, if that. Where is God in our lives? Is he at the fringes, is he an occasional visitor, a pet? Or is he actually a Constant Presence in the middle of everything? (He is.) And why would he need to be in the middle of everything anyway, since, apparently, we’ve got things pretty well in hand? Or maybe we don’t. Maybe things are falling apart and you’re wondering where God is or why he’s allowed this, whatever this is.

Satan’s lie has always been that we can throw off the yoke of God and his law and live independently on our own, that somehow God is withholding the good that is rightfully ours — that basically we can’t trust him and conveniently and consequently, we don’t need God; we can get by with our own wits, thank you very much! In some ways, we certainly appear to be self-sufficient beings, especially in the modern world where technology extends and enhances our abilities. But what the serpent doesn’t say is that, by doing so, we forfeit life itself. The truth is that there is no life outside of God’s grand enterprise.

So do we need God? Yes, but we cannot begin to know how much that we do. Our very foundation, every cell of our bodies, every breath, every step, every thought is the mystery of our life and is wound up, bound up with God, the Author of Life.

To the degree that we mistake this life as exclusively our own, assuming we don’t really need him, to that degree we die. But the more we recognize and worship the Giver, the Sustainer of this, our life, his life, we live.

See also the Introduction, Lies attacking our relationship to God.

[1] Silva, Jason, Awe, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QyVZrV3d3o

[2] Orwell, George, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Harcourt, Brace & World, NewYork, 1949, page 53.

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