Tuesday, May 18, 2010

3 Things God Does Not Need From You

A lot of times we think that we have things to offer God. We don't. I get frustrated when I see people talking about God as if he needs things from people who believe in him.

This list could have hundreds of items, and I bet you can think of more than these 3, but these are ones that seem to come up quite often to me.

1) A temple...or any building for that matter

People used to believe that God actually lived in the temple. That his presence stayed there and people had to go to this temple to experience him. In some ways, many of us still believe this.

We consider the church building, or some other area, to be a holy place. We "feel" God's presence there more than we do elsewhere, and we behave differently when we are in our modern temple. Whether our modern temple has pews, chairs, moving lights, candles, steeples, chapels, or energetic baby rooms; we find ways to act as if this place has more of God than other areas.

Though you can be more aware of God in certain times, and there can be places that we have dedicated for whatever reason to consider "holier" than others; this does not change the fact that God is everywhere. That his presence is with us at all times.

"This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you ever build me a temple as good as that? Could you build a dwelling place for me?"
-Isaiah 66:1

"He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples."
-Acts 17:24

2) Your money

Let me make something clear, we should all be generous. You should help people in need. You should give to God by giving to the local church. Often, and freely. But God does not need your money. As such, his body (the church) does not need your money. If God will provide for your needs, surely he will provide for the needs of his church. Just probably not how we imagine it.

When it comes down it, giving away your money is for you, not for God. Giving is how we break the hold of greed on our lives. You don't give because you're generous, you give to become generous. You choose who you serve and where your money goes shows whom you serve. Money is the biggest competitor to God that you'll ever face.

"Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be."
-Matthew 6:21

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
-Matthew 6:24

"You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."
-2 Corinthians 9:7-8

3) Your worship

Many ancient religions have a recurring pattern when it comes to their god. Which is, their god wants/needs people to worship him. Some show this need through a sacrificial system, and state that their god is pleased by the smell...or that he demands blood to be shed on his account to satisfy some sort of balance.

Judaism shared a decent amount of this imagery...in some ways, there was also a practical side to the Jewish sacrificial system because it was how the priests survived in the culture. But there was another major difference. The Jewish sacrificial system was not so that God would be fed/restored/made whole/satisfied/etc as in other religions. Instead, the sacrifices were made so that the people would be reconciled to God. The sacrifices were for forgiveness; not for God's amusement, needs or desires.

Because he didn't need it. He still doesn't. Though we've moved from the sacrificial system, we offer praise to God in other ways. I've heard people explain praising and worshiping God that seems like we believe we are in some way filling up God's spiritual battery. That he's running low and he requires our praise to fuel him in some mystical way. Maybe you've heard people talking of offering up to God a "sacrifice of praise" or some other phrase.

There is still, in many, a sense that we are really giving something back to God during those times. As if he's in heaven saying, "Ah yes, exactly what I was hoping for, raised arms, awkward swaying and all kinds of 'closed eyed constipation face.' Most excellent."

"I am sick of your sacrifices," says the LORD. "Don't bring me any more burnt offerings! I don't want the fat from your rams or other animals. I don't want to see the blood from your offerings of bulls and rams and goats. Why do you keep parading through my courts with your worthless sacrifices?"
-Isaiah 1:11-12

"I hate all your show and pretense--the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry."
-Amos 5:21-24

"As they reached the place where the road started down from the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. 'Bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in highest heaven!' But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, 'Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!' He replied, 'If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!'"
-Luke 19:37-40

Your turn :)

What else does God not need from you?

Or for that matter, do you disagree? Perhaps God really does need one of these things and I'm way off.