The Strength of Dependence

Author: Pastor Charles A. Tapp
July 05, 2018

Yesterday, our nation paused from its regular work schedule to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, also commonly known as Independence Day.  Without taking the time to give a long history lesson, the fourth of July, as we know, is a federal holiday which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. And it was with the signing of this document that the thirteen American colonies declared once and for all their independence from Britain, as they would forever view themselves as a free and sovereign nation.  Although the celebration of this day in recent times has been consumed with parades, barbecues and fireworks, we must never forget that it serves as an important reminder of the strength that comes when a people possesses the courage to declare its independence.

Independence is a trait that our culture encourages from the time that we are very young. As a youth, I was taught by my parents to learn to problem-solve and figure things out for myself and to seek their help only after I did all I could do on my own first.  When I wanted a brand new bicycle, because the old one my parents purchased for me years earlier was no longer in style, I had to find creative ways to earn the money to purchase it on my own. It was this quality of being independent that was instilled in me at such an early age that helped me later as I had to pay my way through college on my own.

Although independence is something that is viewed by most as being a strength and its counterpart of dependence is seen as a weakness, God on the other hand views our independent spirit as being a liability while seeing our dependence as our greatest asset. Probably, nowhere else in scripture is this point made with such clarity and depth than in Jesus’ words in John 15:5 where he says,

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Much of Jesus’ teaching during his ministry was a counterculture gospel. The same can be said of his teaching today. Today’s culture says if you want to demonstrate your strength, then show how independent you can be. God on the other hand says that it is in the acknowledgement of our apparent weakness that we are considered strong (2 Corinthians 2:9). Could it be that behind much of our unwillingness to live in a state of interdependence as a community of faith is due to our reluctance to acknowledge our desperate need to depend first upon God?

Yes, independence can be seen as strength if you’re declaring yourself as a sovereign nation, but when it comes to a believer’s walk with God, it is by far our greatest liability. For it is only as we remain in complete and total dependence upon God can we ever hope to experience the life that God desires for us. It is a life that is promised to bear, not some, but much fruit.

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