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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



It is all outflow with God.

As I arrive at a very familiar state park this morning, it’s ironic to be thinking about the aseity of God. Aseity (from the Latin a se: from oneself) refers to, in Webster’s words, “the absolute self-sufficiency, independence, and autonomy of God.” In short, God lacks and needs nothing.

Unlike me. I came home from my trip last week with my first case of Covid. (So much for things staying in Vegas.) Though the symptoms were middling, I was unable to do very much. Today is my first time venturing out of the house. It’s alarming how quickly we humans can become pathetically needy.

I came here today for the falls. The visual of a full lake pouring itself out is as good a stand-in for aseity as I can find. Granted, this lake is simply a dammed stream, so there is a clear input which we’ll ignore for my analogy. God’s fullness has no external, incoming source.

All that he needs he finds in himself.

Paul speaks to this concept:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17: 24-25

Christian teachers throughout history have picked up the theme, from the earliest days of the church:

He stands in need of nothing, but is self-sufficient and self-contained, and that in Him all things have their being, and that He ministers to all rather than they to Him.” Athanasius (296-373)

“(He is) a being infinitely perfect, infinitely happy, and self-sufficient; depending upon no supply or revenue from abroad… so this mighty, all-comprehending being, which we call God, needs no other happiness, but to contemplate upon that which he actually is, and ever was, and shall be possessed of.”  Robert South, 1697

South’s addition of the idea that God was “happy” in his self-provision is a welcome one. God is not just at some kind of balanced, neutral state, but full of joy in his being.

Simply put, God doesn’t need anyone. On the surface, that seems to diminish us. But in reality, we become the most favored of creatures, since he brought us into being simply to bless us. He needs nothing from us – he wants obedience and love, but even that is in the context of blessing us with more of himself.

I love this image of the dam from above. The lake’s reflected colors suffuse it with beauty, just waiting to be spilled over into the world.

So it has always been in the Godhead: an endless, brimming fullness of joy and delight. Father, Son and Holy Spirit rejoicing in love. Complete.

And now, his fullness overflows into the lives of his creation.

Just what I needed!

Father, there is nothing we can give to you that you don’t already have in full. And yet, in your kindness, you invite us to give to you honor and praise and obedience – so that we may experience your fullness, too. We find that even our gifts to you are your gifts to us in disguise.

Reader: How does it strike you that God doesn’t need you?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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