“If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”
When I was in college, my usual routine was to stay up late at night and watch sports. Even after all those games had ended, I would stay up even later and watch all of the replays and highlights of the games that I didn’t watch. But one night while surfing the channels, I stopped to watch something I had not previously watched on television—church. It wasn’t just any church, but a megachurch with a lively and winsome preacher. I had a weak theological framework in my youth, so I was uncertain how I should assess what I was hearing. Nevertheless, I was drawn to the preacher’s style. It was lively and engaging, and I really enjoyed his voice.
After a few weeks of watching, I realized that there were multiple references to the same verse in Matthew 21 where Jesus was in need of a donkey. The repeated application of that verse was similar from week to week and strongly suggested the following principle: God needs you. Unfortunately, this would become an operating principle for my ministry over the next few years and remained true for me until I experienced failure in a particular ministry role. I was asked to do something in which I had no experience, and I failed. And then I noticed that the Kingdom and the ministry therein continued. For the first time I had to entertain the thought that perhaps God didn’t need me in the way I had previously thought. I began to wonder if God needed me at all. As a result, that period of my life was a very sad time because I grieved the loss of a belief around which I had mistakenly built my life and ministry.
However, it was also a time when God showed me the immense beauty of the Gospel and, though God does not need me, He, in fact, wants me. What was so amazing about His wanting me was that His desire was based on His love and not on His weakness. He didn’t want me because I completed Him, but because He knew that He completed me. He made me in His image with specific gifts that will bear witness to His power, His grace, and His glory. He did not need me because there was something insufficient about Himself, but He wants me because He designed me to bear witness to His power, His grace, and His glory.
In Matthew 21, Jesus was taking the twelve through a discipleship intensive. All of Jesus’ teaching was about to come to fruition and He wanted them to know that there were two types of people: those who believe God needs them and therefore feel free to develop their own version of faithfulness; and those who believe God wants them and seek to follow God’s version of faithfulness. He called His disciples to the latter. The same calling is true for us.
Consider the ways you might be living your life based on this untruth that God needs you. Examine your life for compulsions. Analyze your list of ministry responsibilities to find those items for which you deem yourself irreplaceable. Instead, build your life and ministry around the fact that God wants you. Examine your life for the many opportunities He has given you to reflect His glory, and be thankful for His pursuit and capture of you.