Trevor did a great job this week of answering one of the often unspoken questions of the Christian faith: What does depending on God really look like? If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do. Because while he did a great job of talking about the how of depending on God, I want to talk about the why.
The United States is a country founded on the concept of independence. The idea is not only contained in the name of one of our founding documents, but its ideals permeate our culture. We idolize the entrepreneurial spirit (building something on our own), are intrigued by the mysterious rebel loner (think James Dean) and celebrate individual achievement.
Independence is a core American value.
It’s an attractive concept, honestly, and one we’ve profited from in several ways. Independence assures my ability to function on my own in any circumstance. It bolsters personal responsibility. Independence fuels capitalism, which has produced an oft-strong economy and courageous innovation.
It’s wonderful to conduct ourselves as self-sufficient individuals. Except it’s a mirage.
We all depend on something. We all need someone. Our actions do not occur in a vacuum — everything we do has an effect on someone else, either directly or indirectly. These are facts that we cannot escape, no matter how much we’d like to.
You were created to be dependent and incomplete.
I realize that on the surface that’s not a very attractive statement, but I promise it’s good news. From our earliest moments in the world, we are creatures in need of others. And not just for food and shelter, but for love, touch and relationship. This is why human touch is so vital to infant development (and to the parents as well). And as much as we parents make it our job to raise independent people, the need for that connectedness never goes away.
So maybe a better way to say it is this: You were created for relationship.
We know this intuitively, by the way. It’s the reason we cry along with Tom Hanks in Castaway as he helplessly splashes in the ocean as Wilson drifts away. It’s not because it’s a volleyball; it’s because he’s alone.
And right from the beginning God recognizes that goes against his creation — “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) Our very nature cries out for more than independence.
Why would God create us this way? Well, a couple of reasons.
First, God himself is a relationship. The God who describes himself as a 3-in-1 reality — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — is describing his nature as one of relationship. So to be created in God’s image is to demand what the very nature of God is — relationship.
A second is so simple we often miss it. God created us to be dependent so he could pour himself into us. This is also core to God’s being. God is love. So he created us and all of creation as an existence that he could pour himself into and move through to bless all other things.
This isn’t to generate some unhealthy co-dependent bond. It’s a natural desire to experience the blessing of real, intimate relationship. That’s the nature of God.
Together is so much more beautiful than on our own.
Because if we can depend on God — look to him for fulfillment and worth — then he will overflow into us. And from that overflow we can pour into others. Then they can in turn do likewise for someone else.
Independence creates still waters. Healthy dependence creates a wave.
A wave of life and energy and spirit and strength and hope and peace flowing from God to all of humanity. All because we are willing to rely on God and one another.
That is what we were created for.