on the independent dependent

Before you get into this post, check out our weekly reflection from Monday.

I love our theme this week on Sacred Margins about dependence.

But, I also hate it.

I love it because the idea is so important to creating true and holy communities in the vein of the Acts 2 and 4 models.

I hate it because one of my identifying personality traits is independence.

There seems to be some misunderstanding about what independence and dependence truly define. The problem is, like so many other things, these ideas have become highly politicized and volatile. In fact, entire political platforms and propaganda have been formed around these ideas.

For so many, including a lot of our readers, independence is American and dependence is for Democrats. In our country, we even have a holiday dedicated to the theme of independence.

Yet, there is an issue with the other side of the pendulum. When folks become completely dependent on other people, they become takers. There is little to no contribution to whatever system they are a part of, whether it be a family, church, or societal system.

Is there a middle ground? How do we define dependence and independence with healthy boundaries? I think the key is at the end of one of the readings from the liturgy this week. Check out the reading from Galatians this week. Note the very last sentence:

“And, they praised God because of me.”(NIV)

-or other versions, “And the glorified God because of me” (NRSV)(ESV)

This passage speaks of Paul’s transformation from being a zealous Pharisee to a missionary for the Gospel. Both ways of life demanded some form of independence and dependence, but at the end of all things – who gets the credit?

That is the root issue for many of us. We want to have the credit for so many of our accomplishments. Or if we are dependent on many people, we will tend to become resentful of those we are dependent on because we want to feel some sense of power or control.

These things aren’t really bad, they are just human. Yet, Paul had something much bigger figured out. While he had more stature and notoriety being a persecutor of Christians, and while he became dependent on the Christian community during his missionary days, there was no real difference.

What was important to Paul was that God was glorified in all of those things. At the end of Philippians, as he wrote from a prison cell, Paul reflected on his times of greatest need and dependence. Even at the end of his remarks about being in want, he boldly proclaimed:

“To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” –Phil 4:20

Allen painted a beautiful picture of dependence yesterday. And, I know God is glorified and honored through this expression of generosity and community.

There are many who are gaining independence from oppressions such as addictions, poverty, injustices, and the like. May God be glorified in that independence.

Just as the enormity of scripture states, it is all about God and his great work in our lives. Let us be dependent, independent, and all the while pointing back to the true source of all of these things.

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