God doesn’t need to brag about us to his golfing buddies. He doesn’t need to post pictures of us on Facebook or write about us in his Christmas letter. He doesn’t need us to do well on the SAT’s or get a promotion or have an important job or provide him fabulous grandchildren so that he has something to report at Rotary during “happy dollar”.
Of course, there is the story in the Bible about God pointing at one of his most loyal servants and bragging about him to the heavenly court. It went something like, “Look at Job. See how obedient he is. He does everything I ask and more.” That made Job a marked man and a playing piece in a game between God and Satan. And things went badly for Job, really badly. Job’s three friends show up with comforting words suggesting that Job must have done something to deserve his plight, he must have offended God in some way. This part of the story is merely a set up for the main point. In the final scenes, God makes a speech telling off Job’s friends for speaking about God in inaccurate ways and telling Job to stop his whining. He basically says, shit just happens. In a scene brimming with divine inspiration and worthy of Steven Spielberg special effects, God asks Job and his friends from the whirlwind, “Did you set the stars in heaven? Did you create the snow? Can you ride a sea monster?” Clearly, God does not need us to fulfill his ego needs.
What a relief. To be beheld without agenda. To be granted the freedom and space to just be. No need to defend yourself against expectation or dodge another’s definition. No pressure to squeeze yourself into a particular shape.
The writers of Anatomy of Peace say our hearts are at peace with another when we are able to see that person as a person, someone whose fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations, inspirations are important as our own. Our hearts are at war when we see the other person as an object, as someone who is a vehicle or impediment to our goals and agenda. Our hearts are at war when our identity is wrapped up in someone else, when we need bask in their reflected glow or hide in their shadow.
God’s heart is at peace toward us. God doesn’t need us to be any particular way in order for God to still be God. That gives God the freedom to love us completely, without artifice, without condition, without defense. That is grace.