If I have God, I Don’t Need People
“Christian” Beliefs that Can Drive You Crazy – Part 3
False Assumption — If I have God, I Don’t Need People
The “me and God” syndrome says this: Since Christ is enough for me, it’s me and God against the world. With God on my side, I can lick any problem. If he’s there beside me, I need no one else.
In theological terms, this “crazymaker” is based on the doctrine of the sufficiency of Christ. Helpful when understood biblically, this tenet is based on passages such as Colossians 2:9-10: “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.”
Correctly understood, the sufficiency principle teaches that Christ provides for the believer’s every need—physical, spiritual, and emotional.
The problem arises when we interpret Christ’s sufficiency as Christ alone, not including his resources. We run into problems when we think prayer and Bible reading are enough to keep us going or when we assume depression, loneliness, or anxiety can be solved by spending time alone with God.
This distorted teaching—”If I have God, I don’t need people”—says that going to people for our spiritual or emotional needs is wrong. To those who ask for help from other people, teachers of this doctrine say:
- You lack faith.
- You have a limited, or small view of God.
- You are trusting in humans instead of the Savior.
- You are dabbling in secular humanism.
- You are in sin.
- You are proud.
So What’s the Problem? God is Sufficient, Isn’t He?
God is God, you say, and he can do everything, right? Doesn’t the Bible say God is sufficient? How can anything be wrong with this? How can this be a crazymaker?
God is certainly God, and God can do anything. Jesus declared, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). He rules the universe (Revelation 19:6).
However, although he can, God doesn’t do everything. God doesn’t drive your car to church. He doesn’t tell your kids that you love them. God uses all sorts of resources to help us in life. He uses angels as “ministering spirits”. He uses the witness of creation to draw us to him. And he uses people.
In short, God’s love is manifested through many channels, including this one: his creatures loving and helping his creatures (1 Peter 4:8-10).
“Me and God” teachers say that God alone is the source of grace, of undeserved love. They say we shouldn’t look to people for grace. Yet the Scriptures say that people are indeed a means of distributing God’s grace to others.
If you’re not receiving grace from God’s people, your perception of God may be diminished. God wants to see love proliferated in his universe. That’s what he is about, and that’s what he wants us to be about. We see people meeting other people’s needs all the way through Scripture.
God Uses People to Meet People’s Needs
God isn’t limited to people but is highly and personally involved with us. He uses people for some things, and himself directly for others.
There are four fundamental spiritual and emotional arenas in which God uses people to help them where they are lacking: growth, comfort, wisdom, and repair.
- Growth. Most Christians want to grow spiritually. One way this happens is through each other. We help grow each other up. None of us is complete. We have our crises and conflicts at different times and about different things. This way, when one is in need he or she is helped. Using the resources provided by God, we are to play a crucial part in each other’s growth (Ephesians 4:15-16).
- Comfort. This is a basic spiritual and emotional need. We need someone to ease our pain, someone to soothe us when we’re distressed. Comfort restores a sense of safety and order to us.Comfort can come from God alone: “May your unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76). However, people are also intimately involved in God’s comforting process. When Jacob thought his favorite son Joseph had died, “all his sons and daughters came to comfort him” (Genesis 37:5).
“People comfort” isn’t just for those who have lost someone. When church members have sinned, then been disciplined for it, we should not leave them alone. Instead, “you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). We should offer solace even if he deserves to suffer.
If we go only to God for comfort, we may be limiting God’s help. If we can’t use his fingers, we may be tying his hands.
- Wisdom. We all need wisdom—skill in living—whether it is in understanding Scripture, comprehending marriage, or figuring out depression. People are some of God’s best resources in gaining this skill.Humbly consult “specialists” in whatever areas you need wisdom, whether it’s about career, finances, anxiety disorders, or the will of God. Let God speak through those who have walked with him—and learn from them.
- Repair. We are all broken in some way, both sinful and sinned against. Because none of us has escaped the results of sin, we suffer spiritual and emotional damage. We won’t let others love us. We can’t say no. We don’t know how to connect with people. We’re unable to be firm in our convictions. We need help to be disciplined, to accept our weaknesses, to stand against those who would abuse us. The broken, damaged, immature parts of our character need to be fixed.God is redeeming those lost parts of our souls that are injured. He is bringing those parts into the light of his grace and truth. And doing this repair, many wrongly believe, is God himself, by himself, unaided by anyone or anything. All we really need, they insist, is to do what the Bible says.
Yet, the Bible says over and over again that we should find people to help us return to spiritual and emotional health. The Bible doesn’t dictate how God will meet a specific need—directly or through people. God’s loving acts are often delivered through people. Allow God to touch you through whatever or whomever he desires.
Learning About God
We learn about God’s character from our human relationships. People who are disconnected and estranged from each other have a more difficult time knowing and being close to God.
We see this continually in clinical practice, especially among Christians who can’t sense any closeness to God. Only after they have worked on connecting to healthy people do they gradually begin sensing God more. They learn the spiritual truths only when the physical ones are in place.
The False Assumption Breaks Down
It’s almost impossible for “just me and God” teachers to live as they teach. If I am loved only directly by God, then for me to comfort others or help them grow would be to cause them to sin. I’d be teaching them to be dependent on people, instead of relying on God. Such a parent would have to stand over a crying infant’s crib and tell her to be comforted by God—then walk away. Such a husband wouldn’t kiss or hold his wife—he’d tell her that Christ loved her, and that’s enough. The teaching breaks down in actual life. If they lived what they believe, the “just me and God” believers would wish people well and be on their way.
God made us to need him and each other. We need God. We need his Word. We need each other. The apostle John wrote, “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Complete your own joy. Come face to face with others who love you.
Taken from 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy, © Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Zondervan 1995
12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy helps you find relief from 12 false assumptions that are commonly believed. Drs. Cloud & Townsend explain the origin of these false principles, show where they go wrong, and pressent a biblical path for resolving emotional and spiritual problems.
This article is Part 3 in a series of Feature Articles adapted from 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.
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