I recently saw a church sign that simply said “Jesus Needs You.” Being the delightfully (if I do say so myself) sarcastic person I am, I immediately began to wonder what Jesus needed. Is he going out of town and needs someone to watch his pets? Does he need to borrow twenty bucks for gas? Does he need to borrow a cup of sugar? Does he need help changing a tire or fixing a leaky faucet?
Why on earth does Jesus need me? In Luke 19, as Jesus is entering the city and the people are shouting praises, the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke the people. He refuses, telling them that “if they keep quiet, the stones will keep quiet.” (v. 40, TNIV) Jesus can make the stones cry out if the people don’t. Sure Jesus wants the people to praise but what does Jesus need from us if he can just as easily replace us with stones?
I grew up Baptist (but am Episcopal now…how’s that for a change of pace?), and what Jesus really needed from Baptists, it seemed, was their money. Well, money and prayers. Money because there were missionaries all over the world doing stuff to help people know God (which is a good thing, I would add). Prayers because, well, God needed to keep tabs on people somehow and prayer seems like the perfect means to do so. (And if you’ve been in one of those prayer gatherings that turns into a gossip session when it’s time for “prayer requests” you know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, that’s about it. God needed prayers and money.
Now we left it to the liberals to do the feeding and clothing and all. They seemed to like helping people since they didn’t really believe in God anyway and it would take their work to get those people fed and clothed and all since God wouldn’t (couldn’t?) do it.
And so there was this dichotomy between the two. On the one hand, we Baptists were running around trying to get people saved (which is what really mattered…after all, “once saved, always saved,” right?) while the rest, well, it was up to God to take care of. On the other hand, those liberals (which apparently I’m not a part of) weren’t so much interested in getting people saved but they wanted to help people because they believed the Bible told them to do so.
You know what? Both had a point. If the analogy of the Church as the body of Christ is remotely accurate then there is certainly a need for believers to be mouths to share God’s message of reconciliation with the world. There is also a need for believers to be the hands and feet for God since he is not physically present in the world. God’s presence is accomplished by the Holy Spirit working in and through believers to care for “the least of these.”
So I guess Jesus does need us, not because there is some kind of deficiency with Jesus that I can help remedy but because we, you and I, were designed to be needed, designed to cooperate with God in bringing about reconciliation between God and all of Creation.