When I was a pre-teen, a certain quote by former President John F. Kennedy, turned my entire understanding of my faith on its head. Which was weird because the quote had nothing to do with God… or religion… or faith. But, being the creative thinker I was, I was bound to put my own twist on it.
It’s one of his best known quotes and it’s pretty straight-forward. From his inaugural address on January 20th, 1961, the president put forth the following challenge:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
I think it was the play on words that caught my ear, but more than that, it made me stop and think about something bigger than myself. And so I tucked that quote away for a rainy day when it would actually be applicable to my life.
It wasn’t until I was older that the profundity of this quote actually came into play in my own life. One day, while reflecting on my relationship with the Lord, it was this quote that popped into my head… but with a twist. Suddenly, that quote correlated to my relationship with the Lord.
“Ask not what your Lord and Savior can do for you – ask what you can do for your Lord and Savior,” was my thought.
Now there’s a really important part of this to understand. And it is as follows:
God doesn’t need us.
He doesn’t need me and He doesn’t need you either. I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re all very good, shiny, happy people… but God still doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need your worship. Or your generosity. Or your kindness. God doesn’t NEED anything. He is God.
However, our God is a relational God, and because we are created in His image, we are a relational people. Just like we desire relationship with one another, God also desires relationship with us. He doesn’t need it, but He desires it.
Now let me ask you a question…
How’s your relationship with Santa Claus?
What’s that? You don’t have a relationship with Santa Claus? Because he’s not real?
Okay, well the fact that the dude doesn’t exist aside… who would actually NEED to have a relationship with Santa Claus? The dude just gives you stuff. Sure, sometimes you write him a letter to make sure he knows exactly what it is you want, and sometimes you give him cookies… but cookies and a list does not a relationship make. (Sorry to break it to all you Santa enthusiasts out there…)
But how many of us treat our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ like we would a relationship with Santa Claus?
How many of us only talk to God when we have a problem or a favor to ask?
The rest of the time our relationship with Him is put on the back burner.
We never talk to Him… unless it’s to ask for something.
We never visit His house.
We’re never generous with our time, talent or treasure… because… well, He doesn’t need our stuff and doesn’t expect it.
We never apologize or ask forgiveness when we’ve done damage to our relationship with Him.
Basically, we treat our Lord and Savior like Santa Claus.
He’s just there to give us stuff.
“God doesn’t want anything from me. I’m unworthy. But He blesses me in spite of it. He loves me just as I am.”
Okay. Yes. True. Absolutely.
But again… what kind of a relationship is that?
How many real-life relationships would thrive under such conditions?
If we never talked to them?
If we never shared with them?
If we never went and visited their homes and spent time with them?
If we never apologized and asked forgiveness when we screwed up?
If we never gave anything in return, but simply took everything we could from them?
How would that relationship fare? The fact of the matter is… it wouldn’t. It would fail miserably. One friend giving everything while the other simply used them when it was convenient?
Kinda makes you look at your relationship with the Lord differently, doesn’t it?
We’re so busy asking for something from God, that we never pause to ask, “Lord, what are You asking of me? In what capacity can I serve You? In what ways do I need to improve my relationship with You? What can I do to glorify Your name and further Your kingdom?”
Maybe, just maybe… we’re asking the Lord all the wrong questions.
Or maybe we’re afraid to ask the right ones.