Friday, November 30, 2012

A Voice from the Past - Spurgeon

Faith will work hard for the Lord and in the Lord's way, but she refuses so much as to lift a finger to fulfill the devices of unrighteous cunning. Rebecca acted out a great falsehood in order to fulfill the Lord's decree in  favour of Jacob -- this was unbelief; but Abraham left the Lord to fulfill His own purposes, and took the knife to slay his son -- this was faith. Faith trusts God to accomplish His own decrees.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, The Treasury of David, Psalm XXVI, (Volume 1, Hendrickson Publishers, p. 415)

How can we go about trying to do God's work in our own way? How can we avoid this?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Rule of the Kingdom

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

The High King instituted the government of the kingdom and then left, promising to return.  In the beginning, the citizens of the kingdom were despised and mistreated.  But later on they became respectable and their rule was applauded by all.  But there arose among the people politicians, who united the kingdom with their own political aims.  Some, to be sure, were conscientious, doing what they thought best for the kingdom.  But others used the kingdom for their own selfish purposes, bringing in debauchery, greed, and corruption.

But there arose a movement to purify the kingdom and restore the good laws of the High King.  To do this, they sought a champion to oppose the politicians and restore the kingdom to proper order.  They bestowed on the champion unlimited authority and allowed none to question him.  But the champion, having unlimited power, began to use it to indulge himself and his companions.  This resulted in debauchery, greed, and corruption at a new, higher level.  Many endeavored to curb the champion and correct his abuses.  But having unlimited authority, the champion avoided every attempt.

Finally, the corruption became so bad many citizens of the kingdom revolted.  They declared their independence of the champion and set up their own governments separate from his.  However, they were not able to agree on a common rule but ended up in many groups, fighting among themselves as well as with the champion.  Many even found the need to ally with the politicians to fight the champion.  Meanwhile, the champion, having cleaned up some of his most blatant abuses, reentered the fray with renewed vigor. This resulted in wars, tumults, and disturbances. Many, as a result of this (or perhaps using it as an excuse), left the kingdom or remained as those who served the High King in name only.  But the divisions in the kingdom continued, and while some threw out all the High King's principles in attempts to reunite it, none seemed able to do so. Therefore, some still followed the champion and some followed the revolution and others held to a mere nominal allegiance.  And the question remains:  Is this what the High King really wanted?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Cultural Catastrophe

The Reformation was a grand rediscovery of true Christian doctrine. But the aftermath was very messy and carries a different type of lesson. It would have been nice if the two halves of western Christianity could have peacefully parted and each gone their separate ways. It would even have been nice if some nations had become Protestant and others had become Catholic and they could have at least separated along national borders. But it did not work that way. There were Protestants in areas under Catholic political control and Catholics in areas under Protestant political control. There were nations which changed from one view to the other, depending on who was in power. There were also divisions between different types of Protestants. All of this became involved in politics, and different groups took sides based on political concerns, and different political leaders took sides based on their political interests.

The result was a series of wars, revolutions, persecutions, assassinations, and plots; and considerable political chaos. It ended up in convoluted confrontations, with multiple sides and with sides frequently changing for political reasons. This resulted, over the long run, in all sides accepting, in most cases, a policy of tolerance. It also left both original sides looking bad and alienating people by their behavior. I do believe (though I admit I am biased) that the Protestants came out of it looking slightly better than the Catholics. But nobody came out of it looking good. The ultimate result of these events was a secularization of society that has continued to this day.

What can we learn from this? We need to be very careful about using violence in promoting the Christian position. I have often wondered if we are not better off being persecuted (as in the early church or under communism), rather than using force to defend ourselves. (Matthew 26:52 may apply here). While I do believe there is a place for Christians to work for just government (Proverbs 14:34), we need to be careful of putting too much hope in the political process. It tends to become entangled in its own goals, which may not accord with any Christian moral concerns. We also need to realize that it is not surprising if the world opposes us (1 John 2:15-17; John 15:18-21; Colossians 2:8). Therefore, we need to be cautious to avoid putting too many of our eggs in the political basket. For we could once more end up falling into the same pit. The best antidote is to remember that God is in control even when the events around us are out of control (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). For it is only this confidence that prevents us from taking things into our own hands and using whatever method, no matter how questionable, to accomplish our purposes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Touch of Humor - Letdown

Should our thankfulness depend on circumstances? Can we get a better perspective on this?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Old Erich Proverb - Legalism

Legalism is not the number of rules you have; it is the attitude you have toward those rules.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Voice from the Past - Anselm

Be it mine to look up to thy light, even from afar, even from the depths. Teach me to seek thee, and reveal thyself to me, when I seek thee, for I cannot seek thee, unless thou teach me, nor find thee, except thou reveal thyself. Let me seek thee in longing, let me long for thee in seeking; let me find thee in love, and love thee in finding. Lord, I acknowledge, and I thank thee that thou hast created me in this thine image, in order that I may be mindful of thee, may conceive of thee, and love thee; but that image has been so consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrongdoing, that it cannot achieve that for which it was made, except thou renew it and create it anew.

Anslem, 1033-1109, Proslogium, Chapter I (translated by Sidney Norton Deane, The Open Court Publishing Company, 1926, pp. 21,22)

How can we find God? How much do we need God's help to do so?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Celebrating the Holidays

Should Christians celebrate holidays? There are those who say it is wrong to do so. But the rest of us can tend to just fall into the world's pattern. Now Scripture forbids making the observance of holidays into a legalistic requirement (Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17). Scripture also says we should follow our conscience, while considering the conscience of others, in deciding such matters (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8-10). But what about the objections?

It is claimed that our present holidays are really pagan holidays. That Christmas is really the Saturnalia, that Easter is a feast to the goddess Eostre. It is also claimed that the traditions associated with those days are pagan traditions. It is further claimed that the Roman Catholic Church had a policy of doing this, that Pope Gregory I said to take pagan holidays and replace them with Christian holidays. And there is the problem that these holidays were Roman Catholic. Now what days was Paul saying it was a matter personal choice whether to celebrate in Romans 14? They were either pagan holidays or they were Jewish holidays connected to a legalistic system. Yet Paul said it was a matter of choice whether to celebrate them.

Just because the pope or the Roman Catholic Church says something does not mean it must be wrong. Further, Pope Gregory I stated that anyone who claimed to be the Universal Bishop or Head of the Church had the spirit of Antichrist. Now this does not mean he was right on holidays, but he does deserve a fair hearing. What are your options when you convert a pagan culture? You can cancel all the holidays, but people like to celebrate, and you become a killjoy. This can result in people still celebrating them in secret to the old gods. Or you can try to get them to celebrate different holidays on different days. This is confusing at best and can leave people celebrating the old holidays to the old gods. Or you can take the old holidays and give them new meaning. This was Gregory's plan.

Now this did not work perfectly, but it worked. Who now, except a possibly a few scholars, knows how to worship Saturn and Eostre on their respective days or what the traditions connected to them mean. But well I remember how, as an agnostic, the holidays were a reminder of the claims of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I believe we can legitimately celebrate holidays and do so in the name of Christ where applicable. (Note, this is a matter of personal conscience not a requirement.) It might be useful to trim away questionable traditions and reinterpret things where reasonable and try to avoid too much of what C. S. Lewis calls "the commercial racket." Celebration is a natural human impulse, and God instituted times of celebration for His people in Old Testament times. The New Testament leaves us free, but being free, we can institute our own appropriate times for celebration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Other World

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

 We live in a supernatural world. But it is easy to forget this. But we are told as Christians that our real battles are on the supernatural plane (Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 2 Kings 6:15-23). Now it is possible to exaggerate this aspect of life. To see demonic forces behind every event and as the cause of all our sins. But it is much easier in this present age to be lulled to sleep and to deal with everything on a purely pragmatic basis, and to ignore spiritual realities. And this can lead to our approaching our problems based on a purely naturalistic basis and not recognizing the spiritual dimension. There is no one in more danger in a battlefield then an innocent who stumbles into it and does not realize there is a war going on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Real Pitfall of Ritual

Some Christians oppose ritual. Others maintain that a detailed system is necessary. Is there a danger in ritual, and if so, what is it? In the Old Testament there is a detailed system of ritual, with precise instructions on what must be done. In the New Testament we see no such detailed system. But we do see certain key ordinances commanded: baptism (Matthew 28:19) and the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Besides the sacraments there are other actions of spiritual significance mentioned as commonly practiced (James 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:8, 5:22; Ephesians 3:14). But we do not see in the New Testament a command against all ritual. Therefore, it is difficult to claim that a detailed system of ritual, one that exceeds the clear commandments of the New Testament, is required. Nor can we take the idea that all physical ritual is bad, though there is a greater emphasis on the inner man (John 4:21-24; Mark 7:14-23; Colossians 2:16-23). Also, we are not given a detailed prescription for public worship even of a simpler sort, though we are given general principles (1 Corinthians 14:40; Hebrews 10:24,25; Acts 2:42). I am therefore forced to conclude that whatever God did not command, He left free (Deuteronomy  4:2; Proverbs 30:5,6; Romans 14:1-12).

The simple fact is that all churches have their rituals. They all do things in a certain way and follow certain patterns. Whether it is having three songs before the offering or communion at the end of the service. It is impossible to totally get away from them. We may have detailed, thought-out rituals. We may have spontaneous, off-the-cuff rituals. But we will have rituals. The danger is simply going through the mere outside performance with the idea that this in itself pleases God or even just to impress other people (Malachi 1:10; Isaiah 66:3; Matthew 6:1-18). This is especially true if our life does not match up with what we are professing. Genuine rituals should be an expression of genuine faith and obedience. God is not requiring perfection, for none of us comes close to measuring up to that standard (Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:17; Philippians 3:12-14). But He does require reality. Merely eliminating or minimizing rituals in and of itself does not solve this problem. We can even claim that the fact we have so few rituals makes us acceptable to God. The real issue is what is in our hearts. I do think it is a good idea to eliminate meaningless rituals, as it is easier to see them as just a duty we do to impress God. But these are just as likely, if not more likely, to occur in churches without a detailed system of ritual as in those who have one. The less clearly you have thought out something, the more purely meaningless stuff it is likely to have in it. But the real issue is heart attitude, and you cannot solve that simply by changing the externals. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Touch of Humor - Question on Thanksgiving

What should be our attitude when facing real problems? How can we thank God even in difficult situations?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Old Erich Proverb - Answers

To know all the answers is to cease to learn.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Voice from the Past - Patrick

If am, then, first of all, countryified, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall.And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

Patrick, 390-461 AD, The Confession of St. Patrick, 12 (Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 4)

Does God often use the obscure people of the world to show up the important? What can we learn from this?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Danger of Common Sense

Common sense can be a good thing. It can help you avoid high-flown, intellectual arguments that have no grounding in reality. It can help you shun extreme emotional reactions that make no sense. But everything has its limits. The problem with being too reasonable is we can create a nice, safe, sensible life and never get beyond that. We can become too cautious ever to step out on faith. We can become so afraid of being fanatical we will never be truly zealous for God. Also, we can make the final standard of evaluation what other people think. After all, common sense normally refers to looking at life as the common person sees it based on their experience. Also, too great a reliance on common sense can be hostile to grace. We can believe we need to work for what we get and nothing is really mes 5:10,11; Habakkuk 3:17,18). It is often difficult to decide which type of faith to use, as both are legitimate. But I think we need to get beyond both to simply trust God, whichever type of faith He calls us to exercise in a given situation. And we should avoid being so cautious that we are never willing to stick our neck out to follow God. But we also should avoid being so reckless that we thoughtlessly follow any impulse. We need to look to God for when to use and when not to use our common sense. For there is a place for both.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's the Word?

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

The Bible does not say much of the spiritual gifts of the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. In fact, all we have is their names in a list (1 Corinthians 12:8). What are these gifts about? (I am going to deal specifically with the word of knowledge, as it is the one I am most familiar with, but I suspect the word of wisdom works the same way.)

The traditional charismatic approach is to see this gift as God's dropping statements into our minds without any previous basis for such knowledge. I have no problem in principle with this; I have had it happen to me on occasion. (There are limitations of privacy that prevent me from describing the circumstances.) Others, trying to avoid a blatantly miraculous understanding of the gift, have seen it as a gift of working with knowledge.This would be the type of gift you might find, for instance, in a seminary professor . I do not violently object to this either. After all, seminary professors need gifts too. Might I suggest something in the middle that perhaps would incorporate the extremes? Could the idea be that God leads you to the knowledge He wants you to have? It could mean the knowledge coming totally out of nowhere. But it could also mean  picking up just the right book or just the right article to answer something you needed to know, even if it was not what you went to the book or article for. Or God's bringing to mind the right thing to say at the right time. Now it should be noted that some knowledge is valuable even if you do not know where it comes from, while other knowledge is only useful if you know the source. I realize this is highly conjectural, but it seems to fit with my experience and the substance of the text.

Now the one thing it clearly does not mean is that we can trust every impulse or thought that runs through our mind as being from God. We are commanded to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).Nor should the word of knowledge be equated with full, inspired revelation; it is in the same verse as prophecy, and why would there be three different terms for the same thing? It also clearly does not mean a person will know everything they want to know. Even full-blown prophets are sometimes not told everything (2 Kings 4:27). But I do find this approach helpful in understanding these two gifts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God and Nations

I did not say much about the United States presidential election when it was going on. This is because I do not believe the real cultural issues we face as Evangelicals can be solved by political means. Christians have an obligation to be involved in politics and to do what we can to promote justice. But legal measures only work to outwardly restrain sin and are only effective if the general consensus of society agrees with them. I like Luther's analogy that the civil use of the Law is like a muzzle on a wild animal. It does not change the nature of the animal, but it keeps the animal from biting you. Our culture has for some time been drifting away from traditional Christian values. Christian political action has only been a holding action against the drift. While I did not strongly support him, I was hoping Mitt Romney would win because I felt that it would slow the drift. But to understand the drift, we need to see the broader perspective.

The early Christians were powerless, but they concentrated on preaching God's truth and living in obedience to that truth and had an substantial impact on the society in which they lived. So much so that when the Roman Empire was floundering, it embraced Christianity as a means to hold society together. Though the Empire fell, Christianity became the glue that helped preserve civilization in the ensuing chaos. But when the crisis was over, European civilization began the process of throwing off the yoke of Christianity. This is not surprising; Scripture tells us that the world is hostile to the things of God (John 15:18-25; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: 1 John 2:13-15). It did not help that the visible church organization had corrupted itself through the pursuit of money and power. Since then, there have been various movements to restore a Biblical viewpoint and halt the decay. But the decline has, in the long run, continued. Also, whenever people have tried to use political force rather than spiritual influence to stop the deterioration, it has failed. Now we have come full circle and are Christians in a basically pagan society. If  we are to have an impact, we need to let go of the past and rebuild from where we are. That means we need to convince people of the principles we hold before we can expect much change in the legal system. And our emphasis needs to be preaching God's truth and living in obedience to that truth. It also means trusting in God rather than our political clout (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Daniel 2:21). Now part of living in obedience to God's truth is working for social justice. But if we see political action as the main vehicle for accomplishing our purposes, we are doomed to failure. We must change people's hearts before we can hope to be successful in changing the country's laws.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Touch of Humor - Aftermath

What do we have to be thankful for now the election is over? How should we respond as Christians to the political situation going forward? (Note: I am writing this post before the election and do not currently know who is going to win.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Old Erich Proverb - Guilt Trips

Guilt trips are depressing excursions; the accommodations are lousy, the food is terrible, the ambiance is horrid, and they only leave you farther from your destination.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Voice from the Past - Chesterton

This, therefore, is our first requirement about the ideal towards which progress is directed; it must be fixed. Whistler used to make many rapid studies of a sitter; it did not matter if he tore up twenty portraits. But it would matter if he looked up twenty times, and each time saw a new person sitting placidly for his portrait. So it does not matter (comparatively speaking) how often humanity fails to imitate its ideal; for then all its old failures are fruitful. But it does frightfully matter how often humanity changes its ideal; for then all its old failures are fruitless.

G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, Orthodoxy, VII. The Eternal Revolution (Dover Publications, 2004, p.101)

Does this make sense? How do we distinguish the ideal from the incidentals that may need to change?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On the Way

We can see Christians as people who basically have their acts together, who live good moral lives, are involved in church activities, and are respectable members of the community. But there are those who struggle with some sin that is not respectable or who have a tender conscience and cannot convince themselves that they make the grade. So they end up living in discouragement. They accept being marginalized or try to hide their problems, often to have them suddenly revealed. This can lead to a person leaving the Christian community or living around the edges, never feeling wholly a part.

Others can become complacent, feeling that as long as they can convince themselves they make the grade, everything will be fine. But it is easy, once we convince ourselves we have arrived, to begin to fudge a bit here or there. What follows is a gradual erosion that can end up leaving a person far from where they started. And in a culture that is in many ways hostile to Christianity, that abounds in temptations, it is easy to slide down that road. This also can lead to a final crash and the exit or marginalization of the individual involved.

One reaction to this to say being a nice, moral, respectable churchgoer is not enough. To perhaps question if the average churchgoer is even saved. But this merely creates the same problem at a higher level, producing discouragement or complacency. And it just makes it easier to fall off the tightrope on one side or the other.

But Scripture says we are not people who have it all together, but are sinners (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9) who are saved by the grace of God (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5,6). Further, while God is at work in us to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13), it is through a process that takes place gradually over time, and none of us have arrived yet (Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 5:14). Therefore, while we need to choose to go forward in Christ (Romans 12:1,2; Galatians 5:16; Titus 2:11-14), we are all at different places on the journey and need to see ourselves and others from this perspective, recognizing we are still on the way (Romans 7:13-25; Galatians 5:17; 1 John 1:8-10). This helps avoid discouragement because we realize that while we may still be struggling, we will ultimately be victorious in Christ (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Philippians 1:6). It also helps avoid complacency because we realize we have not yet made it and therefore must beware of potential dangers (1 Corinthians 10:12,13; Proverbs 16:18; 2 Timothy 2:22). But it is only as we see ourselves as growing in God's grace, but still on the way, that we can avoid these extremes. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Speaking in Tongues

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

I have called myself a charismatic who does not speak in tongues, but where then do I stand on the subject?  Scripture says not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39), but it also says not everyone is intended to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30).  There are incidents in Scripture where the Spirit's filling people resulted in their speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-47; 19:6; in 8:17-19 there was evidently some noticeable effect, though we are not told what).  In Scripture there are four instances of people parting bodies of water (Exodus 14:21; Joshua 3:15-17; 2 Kings 2:8,14).  Does this mean to truly follow God one must part a body of water?  In other cases people were filled with the Spirit, producing different effects (Acts 4:8,31;  13:9-11).  God does sometimes repeat miracles in order to make a point.  But it is a mistake to think God must always work that way. Is it wrong, then, to seek the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1)?  These verses say to desire the best gifts (tongues is not high on the list; see 1 Corinthians 12:28), but the final determination is made by God (1 Corinthians 12:11, 1 Corinthians 12:15-19). We can ask, but God can say no (1 Corinthians 14:13).

It can be difficult to explain something if it is not your gift.  I have more then once told God if He wanted me to speak in tongues I was willing, but I wanted what He wanted. Every time, I felt He clapped my jaw shut.  I therefore conclude tongues is not my gift.  Holding that everyone should speak in tongues can encourage those who do not have the gift to somehow drum it up.  Based on my own gift of discernment of spirits, which is, of course, itself questionable, I am convinced that tongues today can be from divine, demonic, and human sources.  Whether you accept this or not, you need to be careful about regarding every instance of tongues as valid (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22).  But rejecting them all out of hand also does not have any basis in Scripture.  (1 Corinthians 13:8-12 clearly refers to the Second Coming.)

Scripture does give rules for speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:26-33), though there may be questions of how to apply these in various circumstances. If someone says they cannot obey the rules because they cannot help themselves, I have to question whether what they are speaking in Biblical tongues.  Those whose tongues  I have found most convincing seem to be able to control them.  Therefore, I do not buy that tongues are simply a hysterical response to pent-up emotion.  There may be cases of this, but I have known several people who can speak in tongues in a perfectly calm state of mind.  While I do not speak in tongues myself, I am not opposed to speaking in tongues.  But I think it should be carefully tested and done in a Biblical manner.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Being Authentic

One of the highest values of our culture is that of authenticity. I am convinced this is a worthwhile pursuit, as it is good to avoid pretending to be something we are not. But I also believe that, like many good things, it can be taken to an extreme. Like any requirement, it can become a burden when we end up asking ourselves if we have really achieved true authenticity, resulting in our feeling guilty when we find out we fall short. But the big problem is, to be truly authentic, we need to value something else beside authenticity.   Authenticity for authenticity's sake is like art for art's sake. The original goal of art was to portray something other than itself. Whether it was God or country or a romantic relationship or even just a good story. But art for art's sake can end up making art meaningless. In the same way, authenticity needs to be about something. Authenticity for the sake of authenticity can also become meaningless.

The problem is, to be ourselves we need to know who we are. And try as we might, we will not find the answer within us. The idea that we are in ourselves a ready-made package that simply needs to be unwrapped is simplistic. Even less does the idea that we can somehow define ourselves make sense. We can wander around forever inside our own psyches and never find in that subjective realm any solid tie point to base an identity on. We can only be who are when we find something outside ourselves to define ourselves by. From a Christian perspective, this is God and His truth. And I am convinced it is that truth which allows us to face the real world. It says, we are sinners, but if we put our faith in Christ we are forgiven and begin the process of being changed into the people God means us to be. This means we can be honest with ourselves. We do not have to plaster over all our deficiencies to convince ourselves we are basically good. Nor are we left with the idea that life is a hopeless muddle and is fundamentally absurd, Rather, our personality and identity is not something we create, but is sourced in Someone bigger than us. And authenticity comes from our understanding ourselves in terms of Him and becoming over time more of the people He wants us to be. It is not something we have to drum up, much less something we need to beat ourselves up for not attaining. But it is a byproduct of seeing ourselves as we really are in the light of the only One whose opinion of us really matters.    

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Touch of Humor - Voting

How should a Christian decide how to vote? In what ways can Christianity guide us in this?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Old Erich Proverb - Experts

Sometimes an ounce of common sense is better than a multitude of experts.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Voice from the Past - Irenaeus

In the beginning , therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have some one on whom to confer His benefits. For not alone antecedently to Adam, but also before all creation, the Word glorified His Father, remaining in Him; and was Himself glorified by the Father, as He did  Himself declare, "Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."

Irenaeus, 102-202 AD, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XIV, 1 (The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Philip Schaff, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001, pp. 691-692)

What difference does it make that the Father and the Son had a relationship before creation? What difference does it make that God did not need to create us?