Christians sometimes sing the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” the refrain of which goes, “I need thee, oh, I need thee; every hour I need thee.” The “Thee” in the song is, as is evidenced by the various stanzas, our Savior Jesus Christ and the song is a heart-felt expression of the desire for the presence of Christ in one’s life because of the understood need.
Men have a genuine need for God in their lives. The need is not always recognized, but it is nevertheless a true need. Unfortunately, in pride, there are many who would rather believe that God needs them.
But God does not need us. There is nothing we can offer Him that He can’t simply create if He so desired. A couple of thousand years ago, the Jewish people had convinced themselves that because of their birth they were tremendously special. A prophet, named John, tried to bring their pride down a few notches, reminding them, “do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matthew 3:9; NKJV)
Likewise, the Bible reminds us, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25; NKJV)
No, there is nothing that God actually needs from His creation. God is eternal and self-sufficient unto Himself. His existence is not dependent upon us. But we most certainly need God for our very being is entirely His doing.
We don’t like to think of ourselves as being needy individuals. In pride, we like to think of ourselves as autonomous, independent, and capable. Yet which of us brought ourselves into being? Which of us can extend the span of our lives out for as long as we wish? Which of us can say that we are completely the masters of our own destiny? Which of us, today, at this very moment, could provide for ourselves anything and everything we will ever need, from now until the end of eternity?
The answer is: none of us are capable of any of that. Most of us recognize of our physical neediness. We can’t make ourselves grow taller. We can’t make ourselves younger. We can’t keep our bodies from falling apart, and we most certainly can’t do anything to keep ourselves from eventually dying. And that’s just our own physical selves. We are even more helpless to help others. How much more true is it that spiritually, we are rather ineffectual.
And yet we are created as both physical and spiritual beings with both physical and spiritual needs. And there is only One who can provide for us for those needs, and that One is God, who made us. He is Creator, Provider and Redeemer. We need the life He provides. We need those things He has created to sustain our lives. And spiritually, we need the mercy and forgiveness He offers if we are to have eternal life.
Which means we need Jesus Christ.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” claimed Jesus, “No man comes to the Father, except by me.” (John 14:6) God Himself bore witness to our need for Christ when He declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased – Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5) The Lord’s apostle, understanding this, instructed, saying, “There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved!” (Acts 4:12)
Men do better when they humbly admit their need. There is not an hour in our lives where God’s presence, God’s gifts, and God’s mercy aren’t a genuine need. The longer we struggle to deny that we need God in our lives, the more difficult it becomes for us, for we are fighting our very nature. But once we recognize God’s place in our lives, we must then recognize that it is Jesus, and Jesus alone that allows us to fully meet this need.
As the new year starts, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us, learning of the One who can meet all your needs, spiritual and physical, temporary and eternal. Won’t you please join us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.