Do We Really Need God?

I had a conversation with a new friend, a sharp and intelligent 25-year-old single guy. He was seeking ideas for his men's group and shared some insights about the group's members. They all grew up in an affluent suburb of Atlanta, attended a quality and expensive private Christian middle and high school, and had a strong church background. Most of them have completed college and secured professional jobs, making good money in their mid-20s. However, they're grappling with their faith, questioning whether God is real, if it matters, and if they actually need God. While they identify as Christians, they don't necessarily feel the value or reality of the faith they've been connected to for most of their lives.

It made me realize that many Christians, including myself, can often live most of our lives functioning as if we were agnostic, with the reality of our lives reflecting not having a belief or position whether God was real or not. It feels like for a lot of Christians, Christianity is more of a religious structure that offers assurance, salvation, and a framework for successful living. Christianity provides a moral and value system that makes sense and boosts our self-esteem. But beyond that, if we are honest with ourselves, more days than not, many of us experience life that wouldn’t look or feel differently if God wasn’t real.

For most of my life I heard the quip that Christianity is not a religion it's a relationship. So I was particularly sensitive to making sure as the FCA president in high school and as the young life leader in college, that I would say no this is a relationship I have with God. However, if I'm being honest for most of my life, even as a professional Christian, it's felt more like a religion than a relationship. That my experience of a God that my 5 senses don’t see or hear, has felt more like a cerebral practice than an experiential one. That I have felt disintegrous when I have talked about it as a relationship, because it has been very different for most of my life than the type of relationship that had intimacy like other relationships with my wife, or my close friends or my children when I look into their eyes and connect with them relationally.

Now, back to those 25-year-olds—they're just being honest. They go for months without praying or reading the Bible and don't notice a significant difference. Can you blame them? Most of us have been conditioned to think that knowledge and understanding should be enough to find what we're seeking, which I am assuming has been the christian way for these guys. But we know that this approach falls short.

Our chief sin is price. All of us, rooted in our pride, don’t want to need anyone, including God. We desire to be like little gods ourselves. That's why the apostle John wraps up 1 John in chapter 5:21 with the plea for us to keep ourselves from idols. From false or little “g” gods which temporarily make us feel like we don't need the big G god. We know we can't serve two masters. Our pride leads us to believe we can handle everything on our own, and these 25-year-olds are echoing those sentiments.

Robert, my friend, smiled and mentioned that one of them, making a decent salary, living in a great apartment, driving a fancy truck, and enjoying life with his PS5 and a massive TV, and a cute girlfriend, wonders honestly we really need God?  

That’s when I smiled, with a knowing smile. Great question. Do we? Do we really need God. I mean lifes not broken for the guy, seems pretty good. And so I replied, “It sounds like your friend has it all, it sounds like he has found what he is looking for. It sounds like he has found contentment. Sounds like your friend has found peace. It sounds like he is overflowing with joy. It sounds like he feels like his life is complete. That he feels fully and wholly loved.”

Robert replied with an understandingly sad chuckle and shook his head, knowing his friend was experiencing very little of those things above. That his friend had a fleeting happiness that he kept pretending or hoping he could find in the world's offerings.

Isn't it crazy how much of our lives we try to live in a way, or convince ourselves, that we don’t need God? We think we've got it all figured out. That we can find what we long for. That temporary happiness will lead to the joy, peace, and purpose a layer beneath that in all of our hearts. To be in control and minimize the pain and maximize the comforts is the preferred way most of us live most of our days, coming up so short of the Kingdom life that Jesus makes possible.

It’s for all of these things he made us to long for, that he came to meet. That he has the truth about. That He offers us. On the other side of surrender, in humility, through trusting, that we receive.

And in receiving, then producing that fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, offering a hope for a hungry world. A longing world. That in this kingdom life we get to be salt of the earth, lights in dark rooms, cities on hills, showing the world the different way that Jesus made possible. We know the source. Jesus. The one who literally said he came for the purposes of offering peace, freedom, and so much more. What Jesus makes possible is precisely what we're searching for. We just need to slow down, be honest, and realize that the world falls short of providing what our hearts truly long for.

This is the gift of grace we receive daily—the fruits of the Holy Spirit made possible by Jesus. This is the path of following Jesus, the fulfillment we all seek. It's easy to believe the subtle lies that we can find these things elsewhere, that the world will provide them for us. But the truth is, only Jesus and the Holy Spirit can truly offer us these gifts. This is the Kingdom of God, and we are privileged as Sons and Daughters of the King to have access to this table, to receive these gifts. These fruits of the Spirit are what our hearts desire, what we know we can't find despite our efforts to do so on our own. Our pride whispers that it would be nice if we didn't need God, but that's precisely what Jesus came to replace."

Lets remember this today and confess it in order to go walk in a posture of surrender in order to abide.


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