He doesn’t need it, but He wants it.
He can do anything He wants, all on his own (one of the perks of being all-powerful), but He chooses to work with people to accomplish His will.
God is collaborative.
In the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, Jesus didn’t create food out of thin air to feed the multitude, He took what they had and multiplied it.
In the Exodus, God didn’t just bat His eyes and teleport the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, He called Moses to be His partner and lead them. A generation later, God didn’t knock down the walls of Jericho without first asking for a contribution to the effort from Joshua and co. Once they did their part, He did his – with gusto.
And in our own lives, He doesn’t often reveal Himself directly and overtly to most of us like He did to Paul on the Road to Damascus, even though He could do so without breaking a sweat. Instead, He invites other people to share Him with us, clumsily and ineptly, as His spokespeople – His partners. And He offers the same command and invitation (commvitation?) to us, in relation to others who don’t know Him.
But why? It would undoubtedly be easier and less frustrating to do things Himself. Why wouldn’t God just take care of His own agenda, rather than calling His fumbling, bumbling, crumbling, fallible, frail and fickle children to help?
I can think of two possible answers, and I think both are true:
- For Our Benefit: It’s better for us to be participants in our own salvation (and that of others), rather than mere spectators. We grow to be more like the people He made us to be when we partner with God, rather than passively receiving His grace and basking in it.
- For His Benefit: He prefers the experience of collaborating with us over taking care of things on His own – even if the outcome seems less certain this way.
Think about that for a moment. It’s God’s preference that you help Him with His work.
Michelangelo wants you to hold the chisel for him as he turns a hunk of marble into his David. Michael Jordan would rather play two-on-two with you in a high-stakes pick-up game than to do it all himself. Beethoven brings you four-fifths of his Ninth Symphony and asks you to pen the last movement for him, hours before it’s to be premiered before the Archduke Rudolph.
These are only shadows of what’s really happening, folks, but the analogy is pretty sound. The Creator of the Universe could save the world by himself in a heartbeat, but He’s decided to enlist your help with the project. And as far as our earthly eyes can tell, there’s no safety net to catch us if we muck it up.
It sounds daunting, but let’s remember that this ain’t a 50-50 partnership.
In the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the disciples’ contribution to the family meal was to round up what meagre food they had and bring it to Jesus. Then He took those inadequate gifts offered by inadequate people, blessed and multiplied them and created a miracle that still astounds us two millennia later.
Yes, Christ is counting on you. But don’t forget that you can always count on Him.
Peace be with you.