This is a hard truth: God loves you, but He doesn’t need you.
God did not create man for fellowship, nor did He create man for His glory. These ideas are often preached, but I’m convinced they’re man-made and often misinterpreted from the various texts such pastors and teachers use to espouse these ideas. However, as a starting point, I encourage you to read through Genesis 1 and 2 to see if you can discover any proof that the purpose we were created for was to fellowship with God or ascribe Him glory.
Don’t misunderstand my point. I absolutely believe that we should fellowship with God. And, of course, you should give God glory. But I don’t see evidence anywhere in the Bible that our reason for being involves either of those two issues.
What Does God Need?
But isn’t this what most Christians learn in Sunday school? Didn’t Adam and Eve “fellowship” with God in the cool of the Garden of Eden? Don’t the Psalms glorify God on every page? As I’m prone to saying (maybe too often), question the assumptions. For instance, if you believe that God created you for the sole purpose of fellowshipping with you and receiving glory from you, what does that say about God? Doesn’t that presuppose that He’s, well, rather needy?
When we believe the reason we were created was for fellowship and glory, it’s as if we’re subtly rewriting the creation narrative:
God, as lonely as could be for eons on end, eventually got bored and created fish. After four minutes of watching them swim—the maximum amount of time that fish are entertaining—God made birds. After six minutes of watching them fly, he made some more entertaining animals, like the platypus. Eventually He wanted someone to talk to, so he made Adam and Eve. And because He’s an egomaniacal narcissist, he ordered them to worship Him at every moment of every day forever and ever.
Of course, I’m exaggerating this point, but I’m trying to make a point. When we believe that one of the main reasons God created us was to provide Him with fellowship and glory, a fallacy exists that presupposes a God who’s nothing like the God I’ve read about in both the Old and New Testaments.
God does not need us for such things because He is never-changing. He has always been filled with glory, even long before He created us. It’s not as if He was only at 78 percent glory before man came along. Furthermore, He had fellowship within Himself. Remember the Trinity? Long before He created humanity, He had community.
Missing the Purpose of Your Life and Work
The end result of choosing to believe that one of your chief purposes as a Christian is to provide God with fellowship and glory is a life of mysticism and spiritualized isolation. If you believe that your sole purpose in life is to fellowship with God, you may seclude yourself in a prayer closet or out in a remote desert so that you might completely focus on fellowshipping with Him. While all of us enjoy, and likely benefit from a little “get-away time,” a lifetime spent this way misses the opportunity to serve Christ in more tangible and more Biblical ways.
Consider it this way: if you work at a burger joint and your boss asks you to prep a burger, but you reply, “I can’t. I need to pray. My purpose is to fellowship with God,” your boss will fire you. Then, you’ll go to your pastor and complain, “How could I get fired when I was following God’s plan for my life?” And your pastor, if he’s worth his salt, will gently but firmly reply, “I would have fired you too. Your purpose there was to flip hamburgers.”
The truth of that illustration is also the truth of our lives: we were created to work. Being given dominion over the earth requires work. Since sin entered the world and weeds now grow in your garden, such responsibility requires even more work. But when we choose to believe that our chief purpose is fellowshipping and glorifying, we become monastic and mystic, separating ourselves from the world in order to—rather selfishly—get closer to God while edging further away from doing the work of subduing the earth and helping others. Those who prefer a mystical experience of God sometimes want to simply avoid the hard work of life.
I recall mission trips from many years ago in which we’d “prayer-walk” through the neighborhoods we were visiting. At the time, I thought it was a great idea. We were praying for these people after all. But after a few of these kinds of trips, I realized we hadn’t really done anything practical for the people whom we told ourselves we were helping. Of course, prayer works, but prayer as a mystical missions activity is not a Biblical strategy. Our team didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to fly to another place in order to pray for them. We could have prayed over a map and the result would have been the same. But we would have to spend thousands of dollars to fly to another place in order to share our testimony, teach the Bible, lead people to Christ, and disciple them in the Word.
The Apostle Paul was right: “If any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul understood that we have a purpose in this world: to have dominion and produce something.
Now…get to work!
The preceding post is an adapted excerpt from my upcoming book, 30 Things You Need to Know about Your Bible (If You Claim to Know Your Bible).