If God Needs Nothing, Why Does He Ask For So Much?

“We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

(photo: Michael Gaida/CC0/Pixabay)

Mark 12:30 (RSV) and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Our friends, the atheists, frequently contend that this is a colossal case of cosmic narcissism and massive ego. God “demands” human adoration. They say it makes Him seem like an insecure monarch. But they neglect to add that the Bible and historic Christianity teach that God is in need of nothing:

Acts 17:24-25 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, [25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.

When we’re talking about the supreme being of the universe, then the respect, leading up to worship and praise, is all that much more to be expected, and the natural state of things.

God “needs” no worship whatever because in Christian theology, he needs nothing. He’s completely all-sufficient and self-sufficient. It’s for our sake that we “render unto God’s what is rightfully God’s.”

I searched “demand worship” in my online RSV Bible and it never appeared. God does say in the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me. . . . you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:3, 5). Why does God give his commands, which include monotheism and worship of Him alone?:

Deuteronomy 4:40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God gives you for ever.

Deuteronomy 5:33 You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land which you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 6:18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, . . .

Deuteronomy 12:28 Be careful to heed all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you for ever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 28:1 And if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments which I command you this day, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. [all the blessings God will give them are then listed in 28:2-14; then 28:15 states, “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” This is followed by a list of calamities in 28:16-67.]

It’s always the same, and this is the story of the Old Testament and the ancient Jews. God tells them to follow his laws and commands and everything will be wonderful for them. They will have manifold blessings. Then they decide not to and to rebel against God and it goes terribly, just as God said it would.

And then these same men (and atheists today who think like them) blame God rather than their own stupidity and stubbornness. But if we sum up what God wants, as expressed in the Bible, here it is:

1 Timothy 2:3-4 . . . God our Savior, [4] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God also praises human beings:

Romans 2:29 . . . His praise is not from men but from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5 . . . Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

Atheists are simply projecting human emotions onto God, as if he is some sort of high maintenance drama queen who needs constant attention. Ironically, this is what fundamentalists often do, too.

Hence both reject anthropopathism and anthropomorphism, which entail non-literal concepts, and God condescending to our understanding in describing himself by using human or other physical features and traits.

These are quite unsophisticated, improperly thought-through views (i.e., referring to this one topic of worship). And atheists want to pretend that God is a despot and tyrant, which is not at all how the Bible presents him.

God knows that we are most happy and fulfilled living as he intended it to be: in as close of a union with him as possible. Likewise, the parent knows that children will be happier if they accept both the love and correction of the parents.

Another partial analogy is how we act when we are in love. Any good love poem contains rapturous praise, lavish, over-the-top compliments, placing this loved one at the very center of our existence and the meaningfulness of our life and indeed our happiness and fulfillment. So we praise and compliment in the most extravagant ways.

The Christian attitude is: “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God’s love (which we can reject, because he gives us that freedom) is very tender, and is compared to a mother hen and her chicks:

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Scripture is chock-full of passages detailing God’s intense love for human beings. We praise and worship him because of his loving, all-benevolent nature; because he created us and fulfills us when we serve him, and due to all the wonderful things he has done.