Does God actually need us? (May 24, 2012)

When we know there is a need on the other end, when we know that our actions affect someone else, that is usually a motivator. When, for instance, another person is lonely and needs our company, that tends to spur us on, moving us to reach out further than perhaps we otherwise would. We are, of course, well-accustomed to this in relation to other people, but what about in relation to God?

Traditionally, of course, it felt as if God really needed us to obey His laws and further His agendas. If we didn’t, His wrath would be kindled. I think there has been a general revolt against this sentiment for good reason. One expression of this revolt is the punch line from the book Illusions by Richard Bach: “The Is doesn’t need me to tell anybody how it works.” After all the demanding things the traditional God needed from us, it can feel really good to think He doesn’t really need anything from us at all.

But perhaps there is another side to this. What if God actually does need us, not as a general needs his soldiers, but as people need other people—for the simple joy of companionship? This, in fact, is what A Course in Miracles tells us over and over again. I think we tend to read these passages out of the Course, either not noticing them at all or concluding that the Course must be speaking poetically and can’t really mean what it’s saying. However, the pattern regarding this theme is so broad and so multifaceted that I think we are forced to conclude that the Course does indeed mean it. Let’s look at some of the facets.

First, the Course tells us no less than six times that God did “not will to be alone,” saying that this in fact is the whole reason He created us: “Because He did not will to be alone, He created a Son like Himself” (T-11.I.5:7).

Second, the Course tells us four times that God is actually lonely without us. For example, “And He is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate fully with Him” (T-4.VII.6:7; emphasis from original dictation).

Third, four times the Course speaks of God yearning to be with us again: “Would you deny His yearning to be known? You yearn for Him, as He for you” (T-14.V.1:4-5). Can we take that on board? Can we imagine God actually yearning to be with us?

Fourth, many times the Course emphasizes how grateful God is when we take a step toward Him. This can be such a difficult message for us that, in Lesson 123, we are urged three times to “receive His thanks” (or “receive the thanks of God”). Only when we do that, we are told, will we understand just how deeply He loves us: “Receive His thanks, and you will understand how lovingly He holds you in His Mind, how deep and limitless His care for you, how perfect is His gratitude to you” (W-pI.123.8:1).

This can perhaps give us a clue about why we tend to gloss over these passages in the Course. Could it be that our objection that they are “just too dualistic” is actually a front for a deeper difficulty? Maybe it’s just hard for us to believe that God values us that much. Maybe it’s as simple as that. After all, the ego delights in our self-debasement just as much as in our self-glorification.

For the moment, then, let’s try to suspend our disbelief. Let’s just consider the possibility that the above statements are true, that the Course is not lying to us. Let’s consider that God really did create us because He doesn’t want to be alone. Let’s entertain the possibility that in some real sense God is lonely while we are asleep to Him. I’m sure it’s not the same as human loneliness, but can we consider that there is an authentic divine loneliness? Let’s imagine that God actually yearns for us to be back with Him—not just wishes, yearns. And let’s let in the idea that He is sincerely, profoundly grateful to us for all our efforts to get back home to Him, and that the reservoir of His gratitude waits behind the dam of our disbelief, ready to flood our minds with Love.

If we can take those things in, just a little bit, does it motivate us? Does it make us want to reach further in God’s direction? If God, in the most innocent and even holy way, needs our company, wouldn’t we naturally respond to that, just as we would respond to another person needing our company?

In light of all this, let’s listen in a new way to how The Song of Prayer ends. In its final section, God Himself speaks to us, and here is the very last thing He says:

Remember this; whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last. (S-3.IV.10:7)

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