1996: Want Versus Need

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Published on: 1996.06.15

[I did not record the exact date of writing, only “1996”.]

First of all, we must come to terms with the words used for the title. Webster’s Dictionary uses them almost synonymously, but here, I plan to use them almost as antonyms. By “want” I refer to desires, a seeking after, longing, yearning, wishing, hoping, as in the sentence, “I want an ice cream sundae.” By “need,” I mean something required, necessary, that without which I cannot live.

Second, let me set some parameters on my discussion. I will be referring to Man, and his need for God; and Man, and his want for God, and the difference between them.

Many religious people, including Christians, Muslims, Catholics, and even cultists, are convinced that every human needs God. Of course, those from each category will insist that men need their particular God, the God described in their scriptures, and their code of worship. To this discussion, the question of which God will be considered irrelevant. I am not here concerned with proving one God’s authenticity over another’s. I am concerned with whether man needs God or wants Him.

As I mentioned, many people are under the impression that Man needs God. The same people assure us that without God, life is impossible, happiness is unattainable, and reality has no meaning. I will stipulate that in the technical sense, they are correct, according to their own scriptures. Stipulated: God (one of the more popular ones, that is) created the universe (world) as we know it, set the stars and planets in motion, and then created life in all its forms (or caused life to exist, which then spread into its contemporary forms).

In this sense, of course God is necessary for life, happiness, and meaning. If He had not created everything, and set the cycle in motion, we would not even be here today, thinking about such questions.

In a more practical sense, I ask, is God necessary for life today? Since we have stipulated that He already set everything into motion, and designed the environment we live in, must we also stipulate that He is necessary for its continuance? If God took a vacation, would the universe fall apart? Most of these religions assert that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere. If He is so smart, could He not create a world and a race of men that could continue to exist, even if He were not constantly at the controls?

Some say, “I need God to heal me.” Do you? Did He not create our bodies to heal themselves? What are white blood cells? The God who developed our bodies was not ignorant. In fact, He anticipated every problem that we might have. If I scrape my knee, my blood clots at the location of the abrasion and soon forms a scab. Later, new skin begins to grow under the scab, and finally, when it is no longer needed, the scab falls away, leaving fresh skin. If I break a bone, it can be set, and will soon grow together again. If I contract a virus or a bacterial infection, my immune system will fight it off. God put all of these safety measures into our bodies millennia ago, knowing what dangers we would face.

Some say, “I need God to supply my financial needs.” Do you? Can you not earn, or save, or borrow, or find, or steal, or inherit, or accept as a gift some kind of money? Not that some of these are the best ideas, or even legal, but they are possible.

Some say, “I need God to heal my relationships with other people.” Really, now. Perhaps being humble and using some common sense in dealing with others would soften a lot of the rough edges off your personality. Maybe if you were not always looking out for your own desires, your wife would not have left you. It could be that if you had not been at the office so long, your children would still love you. God provided many means long in advance of your particular problem just so you could solve it.

What I am saying is that Men do not need God. Please, do not label me as a blasphemer just yet. I do have a more important point to make, but this small misconception has to be cleared up first.

You may ask about the Judgment or the Reckoning Day. Will I not need God then? Perhaps. But that is another question.

I am saying Mankind does not need God for the day to day existence he calls life. Everything I did today could have been done without God’s direct intervention (except perhaps the revelation of this truth I am trying to convey.)

I am prepared to say that God, in His infinite wisdom and love, has fashioned our world around us in just such a manner that we will not fall on His mercy because we can’t get along without Him, but rather that we could live without Him, sometimes for years on end. What does this mean? That God’s desire is for us to come to Him because we want to.

What kind of God — even those proposed by the above-mentioned religions — would create subjects who would have to run to him with every little problem, whining and whimpering because they cannot live without His gracious help? In that case, His help would not be gracious, but required, by His own design. It is simple: He creates us helpless. We have problems with which we cannot deal. We come to Him for help. He helps us.

When the truth is just as simple: He created us powerful, resourceful, intelligent, and capable, for the end of letting us choose independence. We have problems. We solve them. We get along without Him. Then we realize how much more happy and fulfilled we could be with God in our lives. So we come to Him, because we want to. He is overjoyed that someone came to visit Him. He loves us. We love Him in return, and choose to obey Him. He helps us.

My whole, sweeping, mind-shifting point is that God wants us to want him, not need Him.

Proposition: You do not need God in your everyday life.
Question: Do you want God in your everyday life?

That is what you should be asking yourself. Well, think about it.

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