Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is God Selfish?

Recently a young German friend sent me an email with a good question. She wrote...

"Hey Paul, How are you doing? yesterday evening I had a really good talk with a friend here who's becoming interested in Christianity and thinking that there could be more to it. She asked me one question I asked myself some time ago but didn't feel necessary to find the answer to it. 

I was talking to her about my believe that every person has a "god given" emptiness inside of him/her that can only be filled by God himself. now the question: Isn't it selfish of God to put an emptiness in us that ultimately only he can fill?

Does this has something to do with our fallenness again? cause we were whole and complete back in paradise. we're perfectly in balance with God and needed nothing. can u give me some help, points, bible texts where I could start thinking and meditation on?

Thank you so much,


What a great question! But I noticed that in fact the premise upon which it was based was questionable. This is what I wrote in response...

Dear Julie,

Does God really give us a "God-given" emptiness? I don't think you'll find that in the Bible. What God does offer us is his love. 

We are created to be in relationship with him. When we don't come to God in faith and live as his child, we experience an emptiness. Augustine said, "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you." (Augustine Confessions 1.1.1) This is not a god-given emptiness. It the emptiness we feel because we have not included God in our lives.

Blaise Pascal has often been quoted as saying that, "There is a God-shaped hole that can only be filled by God." But this is not really what he said. He said, "... the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. (Pascal Pensees 425). 

We all experience this emptiness or a lack of completeness because when Adam and Eve sinned, it caused a break in the relationship that humankind had with God. The sin of Adam and Eve separated us from God. And because of that separation, we feel the void of God's absence. That could be called a "God-shaped hole." And yes, because we are fallen at birth because of that "original sin" we experience a separation from God. We all try to fill that emptiness with good things and some not so good. But the void created in us by God's absence can only be filled by God himself. That is why Jesus came to bring us to God. (1 Pet 3:18).

I hope this helps. Do share it with your friend. God is not selfish. He did not put the hole in us. When we don't come to him as his child, we put it there ourselves.

Grace and peace,


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