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The problem with independence

America is a nation founded on rebellion against tyranny and a declaration against it. That declaration formalized our commitment to a value – the value of independence. The Bill of Rights took that commitment and made it specific. And generations later, if there is one thing that unites Ame…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

America is a nation founded on rebellion against tyranny and
a declaration against it. That declaration formalized
our commitment to a value – the value of independence.

The Bill of Rights took that commitment and
made it specific. And generations later, if there is one thing that unites
Americans, it is our commitment to independence.

The problem is, this commitment is not biblical – we have
swung the pendulum too far. The biblical
standard is interdependence and unity. While we assert our independence from tyrants,
the Bible states that we must be dependent
on one another and on God.

The body of
Christ can’t function unless we commit ourselves to allow our brothers and
sisters to have authority in our lives.

And Proverbs spells out how this works in our relationship
with God: “Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little. If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God, who needs him?’ If I’m poor I might steal and dishonor the
name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

Those who aspire to follow Jesus would do well to ask: Have I
struck the right balance in my life? In
what specific ways have I made myself dependent on God? How have I made myself vulnerable and dependent
on my brothers and sisters?

If you’re going through a dry time in your life, perhaps you
need your own declaration of dependence.
Find new ways to depend on God and others and paradoxically you’ll
discover a greater measure of freedom in your life.

Also, check out: 4th of July – let’s celebrate our dependence too

Comments (8)

  • That’s New England in a nutshell. We take great pride in our independence up here in the snow. A person in New England has really arrived when they have a woodstove, a generator, a truck with a plow, and enough food in the freezer to last for a month.

    Now, being prepared is good. The power does go out at least 6 times a year on a -10 nightso preparing ourselves for those certainties is not wrong. But independence has become a god of its own up here. Maybe the cold has affected our hearts.

    God first taught me interdependence on a two week trip to El Salvador, where I lost my toiletry kit on the plane, broke my glasses, lost my contacts, and misplaced every item I brought with me at one time or another. I had to ask others to help me the whole trip and it crushed me. “I’m Ms. Prepared! was my motto” I had to ask everyone on the team for help the whole trip and it was eye-opening. When I work hard to make sure that I am not a burden on anyone, I deny them their purpose and the joy they get in helping me. As a result of my bumbling idiot self, we had the most cohesive team and great family experience. It was a blast! People stopped thinking of me as invincible and I became a real person to them.

    It’s a struggle to overcome my stoic New Hampshirite personality, but I’ve found that when I forsake the god of independence, God does really neat things!

  • Great blog. Interesting one of the first things God says about man is that it’s not good for him to be alone. I liked the 4th of July blog also. God has been bringing up to me time and again that it’s harder for a rich man (like us in the states) to get to heaven… Like you said, the problem is we can be self-sufficient and often don’t have to rely on God for everything, and that is just a misperception of reality, since we have to rely on God for everything.

  • Great post. It’s like the body of Christ has whole bunch of lips but not nearly enough hands and feet. My friends and I have started the Red Letters Campaign (http://redletterscampaign.com). Our vision is to help people Learn about poverty, Connect with other Chrisians, and Do something about it. Together. Maybe people just need a cause around which to rally and someone with the gift of administration to help them get organized.

  • This is one of the biggest ways God is working on me right now. I have a tendency to be fiercely independent, in both practicle and spiritual aspects. God started chipping away at this in May when my car broke down 4 times in 4 months! I had to ask for rides, loans to fix it, and prayer just to keep it running (and stopping on command). Since then God has been challenging me to be vulnerable and transparent others. It is a scary thing to rely on people, but God has proven faithful and I know He would not call me to this risky way of life if not for my growth and His glory.

  • It’s about balance. Excessive independence is isolating and exclusive while excessive dependence become a burden to a community and the dependent never fully develops as a person, but is stuck in the season of adolescence.

    Personally, i find it offensive when individuals are too willing to receive. I think people should always be in posture of constantly asking themselves what gifts and resources can i offer to encourage the “flourishing” of those around me. Not the other way around. But this is a personal bias and i would be interested to hear other’s thoughts on it.

  • I know the God of independence well. I’m a. Lack woman. I learned very early that no one was coming to save me. I felt like a burden my whole childhood and it has been my reason for being fiercely independent. Today God has chosen to deal with it and I’m not happy. My resistance is really high because I feel personally attacked, except for the fact of knowing God loves me and He reveals to redeem. Thank you for your comment. It described me as well.

  • This is good stuff. I struggle with this very issue so much! I call it being a “very private person” but the truth of the matter is that it is a trust issue, which is probably why God wants us to learn to depend on each other. It builds trust in God Himself. I am learning to look at it this way, each time I chose to trust humans who are fallible like me; I ultimately have to trust God. I have to trust Him to mend whatever breaks, heal every hurt, and restore everything that can (and sometimes do) get damaged in a relationship build on trust. The great thing is…He does!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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