We often crave independence, but in actual fact, we are all dependent people to some extent. As babies, we are wholly dependent on our mother for life; once born, we are dependent on adults to provide just about everything necessary for life (food, clothes, cleaning, moving etc.) As we grow, we become gradually less dependent on others and like to ‘do it all by myself’; independence is highly prized. Yet despite this desire for independence, no one can actually survive without others; one of the key things about the pandemic and lockdown has been the realisation of who the key workers really are. We are even dependent on earth and nature for survival and therefore need to take care of the earth, being good stewards.
Spiritually, we are brought to life by God’s Spirit and are therefore wholly dependent on Him for our salvation (see John 3:5, Eph 2:8-10). Paul reminds the Galatians that after beginning by means of the Spirit, it is foolish to now try to finish by means of the flesh. (Gal 3:3) Yet so often, this is what we do. We need to feed our spiritual life through prayer and reading the Word, but must never think that we can reach a point of spiritual independence as we grow up.
In 1 Sam 8:1-7, we see how the elders of Israel’s wanted to appoint a king over them when they realised that Samuel’s sons were not following the Lord’s way. They looked at those around them and assumed that their way was best, whereas God wanted to be their king and helper (see Is 31). So often, Israel turned from dependence on God to seeking help from other countries; as Hosea put it, problems occurred ‘because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors.’ (Hosea 10:13)
Self-dependence will ultimately lead to failure. We need to re-evaluate our lives, looking at the direction our lives are taking and how we spend our time (since this will inevitably reflect our values). We live in the same world as everyone else, but are called to live differently (see 1 Pet 4:1-3). God calls us to seek out His truth and live by it, which will not lead to general popularity (John 15:20, 2 Tim 3:12). It is not easy to live against the system of the world, but ‘if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.’ (Rom 14:8)
To recalibrate our dependence on God, we need to spend time in prayer and in the word, re-aligning ourselves with God’s purposes and plans. Jesus reminds us that He is the vine and we are the branches; apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Ultimately, we need to be prepared to pay the price, living for eternity. God works in us (Phil 2:12-13), energising us and give us the power to live for God. We have to live according to what we know of God, following the last instruction received. We must live for eternity, not living independently but living in dependence on God.