We live in a world where we are told you don’t need anyone else. Social media feeds post endless memes about how you have the strength inside you to get through anything that you face and how to be who you truly want to be. Phrases like ‘You’ve got this’ and ‘You are enough’ are commonplace. [Editor: At least they used to be commonplace. For some reason we don’t see as many of them since the coronavirus hit.] It’s the mantra of our day and even as Christians, we can fall into this cultural trap. A trap that effectively turns truth upside down: we are the ones who are self-sufficient, and any ‘god’ needs us.
Amid all this confusion, it’s important to turn the truth the right way up and state that there is only one who is self-sufficient, and that is God himself. Within himself, he possesses every quality and every ability in endless measure. He has enough resources in himself for everything he is and does. To put it simply, God does not need anyone or anything else. He is complete. God is not dependent on his creation, he is completely independent of it.
How do we know this?
The self-sufficiency of God is seen throughout the Bible. On the first page, we read, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). He made the heavens and the earth – he owns them. Psalm 146:6 tells us that he created everything within them. Job 41:11 and Romans 11:35-36 show us that God doesn’t owe anything to anyone. Psalm 50:10-12 reminds us that God needs nothing.
Paul, in Acts 17, says at the Areopagus in Athens, ‘The God who made the world and everything in it does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.’ Paul could not be clearer – God has not been made by us, nor does he need us, but we need him and rely on him for everything.
Why is this important?
The fact that God is self-sufficient should be such a comforting truth to us. Just think about these three things.
Your worth to God is not dependent on his need of you
Our human relationships often rely on need. In one sense this is only natural, we are drawn to those whom we get the most from, to those who meet our needs. Of course, this can be abused. I’ve met any number of people in my career who will be very close to you, but as soon as they don’t need you anymore, they quickly move on. Imagine if our worth to God was based on him getting his needs met by us? Thankfully, God’s self-sufficiency means that my worth and meaning are not based on his need of me. Even though he was not obligated to have a relationship with us, God created us in his image to have a relationship with him. My worth to him is not in me or anything I have done. Rather God determined I have worth when he made me in his image (Genesis 1-2).
Your salvation is dependent on a God who is not dependent on you
Someone in work recently told me they had separated from their partner because they no longer needed him. It’s a natural consequence of our materialistic society’s attitude of ‘drop everything once it’s not useful to you anymore’. If our salvation were down to us and God’s need of us, it would hang from a thread. God would just drop us as soon as we weren’t fruitful or when we were struggling. Thankfully that’s not true. Our salvation depends on a God who doesn’t depend on us. We bring nothing to the table. When sin entered this world (Genesis 3) and ruined our relationship with God, he didn’t have to or need to save us. He had every right to say that enough is enough and to destroy us. But he chose not to.
I love Ephesians chapter 2. We were dead in our trespasses and sins…
…but God – being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).
This is truly amazing. We were dead in our sins. We weren’t in a situation where God was gaining anything from us, but he saved us. To do this, the God who is independent of his creation, came into his creation. Indeed, it is only because God was free from his creation and the effects of sin on it, that he was able to enter into his creation to save us.
Your worship is directed to one who is not dependent on you
Think about it. Remember Acts 17. Paul reminds us that God is not to be worshipped by us as if he needs anything. We’re not doing him a favour when we rock up to church on a Sunday or when we live a godly life. True worship acknowledges that God doesn’t need us, but we need him. This is important. If God needs us, then he’s not worthy of our worship. It would make our gatherings and our faith a farce. If God needs us, then he is weak. If God needs us, he can be manipulated. If God needs us, then he is no better than us and is not worthy of our worship.
That’s why it’s so important God is self-sufficient. He is mighty and strong. He is worthy of our praise. He does not change. He is faithful. He is on his own, far greater and beyond our thoughts. He has all he needs and more!
How should we respond?
In Revelation 4, we have a picture of the 24 elders in heaven. What’s their response when they are reminded of God’s glory and self-sufficiency? Worship! In our world of ‘you can do it,’ we need to remember there’s only one who can just do it. There’s only one who is self-sufficient! And this should spur us on to worship him.
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Rev. 4:11).
Worthy indeed is our self-sufficient God!