I’m reading Karl Barth’s little book on prayer; I came across this provoking thought:
In Jesus Christ, God has manifested himself as a God who, while being perfectly free and self-sufficient, yet does not wish to be alone. He does not wish to act, exist, live, labor, work, strive, vanquish, reign, and triumph without the human race. God does not wish, then, for his cause to be his alone; he wishes it to be ours as well.
Barth agrees that God is self-sufficient; God did not create humans because of a lack in himself, in order to quench his divine distress or loneliness. Neither was God somehow forced to created humans, by a greater power. God is completely free and has no needs, neither does he have superiors. When he created humans, he did so out of complete fullness, rather than lack.
He created us out of love, in other words. He created beings to share his cause with, because he did not wish to be alone in it. What is God’s cause? God’s cause is the spread of his name, his kingdom, and his will, as Barth deduces from the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. God did not wish to be alone in his cause; he wished it to be ours, as well.
Our noble calling as humans is to participate in God’s cause. Within his cause, we find fulfillment. As we cherish his name, acknowledging his presence and our dependence, his cause abounds. As we sculpt this world into shape, turning wrongs into rights, and making the ugly bits beautiful, his cause abounds. As we give living performance to his heart’s will for justice and mercy and righteousness, his cause abounds. And when his cause abounds, our satisfaction with life abounds, for we’re functioning in the ways that our Maker intended.
Living for our own name, our own kingdom, and our own will, is self-destructive. Putting the human cause at the center causes us to implode.
But Barth goes on to acknowledge the rest of the Lord’s Prayer, which includes petitions for the “human” cause: daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil. The Lord’s Prayer, while champing God’s cause first as foremost, does not hesitate joining it to the human cause. We first are called to participate in God’s cause; then he participates in ours. God and humans live life together. Humans are not to live atheistically; God does not live humanlessly.
Today, my job is simple: I am to live for God’s cause. Today, God’s job is simple: take care of me. My cause becomes utterly glorious, his cause utterly loving.
© Samuel Kee, 2012