One of the most helpful realizations is to admit we are not God. In fact, God is God and does not require our permission to hold that status.
Faith itself is dependent upon the fundamental belief in God’s independence. “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). A Christian’s faith begins with a belief in God’s existence.
For God to be God, his identity demands the attribute of independence.
He is the ultimate subsistence. There has never been a moment when God was not, and there will never be a moment when God will not be.
The Great I AM
When God approached Moses from within the burning bush, he called on this shepherd to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses would have to confront the Egyptian Pharaoh, who governed as if he was a god and who also venerated countless other gods. Before Moses could accept the assignment, he at least needed the ability to namedrop some deity into the impending conversation. Pharaoh would refuse to continue such a pointless discussion if he was unsure which of the many gods Moses cited to free the Israelites. What name should Moses use to describe this particular God to such a pagan ruler in such a pantheonic land?
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exod. 3:14). With other gods, a designator was required for identification. Ra was the god of the sun, Mafdet was the god of justice, and Thoth was the god of wisdom. The gods were known by a certain percentage of appropriately-assigned deified duties. Yet, when the God of the Bible chose a name, he simply stated, “I AM WHO I AM.” He is who he is. He will be who he says he will be. God is the independent, self-existent one who defines himself. To utilize a designator for this God would be futile because his existence is not dependent upon any of his works. He is God by the very proof of his own existence.
The Awareness We Need
When studying God’s attributes, one must ask the question, “In light of this truth, how now should I think? What am I to do?” When our humanity intersects with his divinity, what damage is left from the unavoidable collision? In the case of God’s independence, this truth needs no one to impact. In fact, none of God’s attributes actually need human subjects on which to establish themselves. The sun does not need sunburned skin to prove its intensity, nor does God need our scorched souls to prove his worth.
And yet therein lies the complexity of it all. We have seen the light. We have experienced the warmth. God possesses no responsibility to expose us to his glory, and yet he does. “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him” (Ps. 8:4)? This truth should serve to give us the self-awareness that is essential for our often misguided souls. We can’t provide anything that God needs because he is entirely without need. We are impotent negotiators with him. We cannot barter with him because we have nothing of intrinsic worth to place on the table.
When confronting the innocent sufferer Job, God asked, “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Job 41:11). If God were needy and required something as simple as a meal, he wouldn’t even ask us because all the world and its fullness belong to him (Ps. 50:12). Where would we even begin to haggle with him?
God’s independence should create significant insignificance in us.
God is entirely absent of need, and we are entirely devoid of any necessary caliber. God doesn’t need us. Never once has God required our involvement to address one of his problems. God has never been stressed out by any situation. He has never frantically paced the halls of heaven gathering an angelic poll on what to do or how to do it. The Lord of hosts has never once attempted to recruit and remained anxious about the results. God may appreciate our efforts, but he has never once relied upon our efforts. Instead of allowing that truth to discourage you, it should solidify you.
The Failure of “My Truth”
A culture that defends its beliefs and behaviors on personal ideations of what feels true to an individual is one that is destined to fail. No matter how much “you do you,” you will ultimately have to make an account before God.
Just Because We Are Unreliable Doesn’t Mean That God Is
Along the way, we make God pay for the mistakes of others. For all the people who have proven to be unreliable, we associate their nature with God’s nature. We stare at the promises of God and demand that we receive a deadline of when they will come to pass.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.