Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July here in the United States, where I get the pleasure of being a citizen and living, and it’s a holiday entirely devoted to celebrating our independence. It’s the anniversary of the day American settlers declared their independence from Great Britain, and to this day, the idea is that we don’t have to be responsible to anybody. We can make our own destiny.
Now, where I live in the Pacific Northwest, that sense of independence is even more amplified. If you think about the founding of the west side of the United States, the earliest settlers here were people who left their families on the East Coast in search of a better life. And we still don’t want to be beholden to…anything, really. Take, for example, the fact that when the sun comes out in the PNW people don’t want to commit to anything. They want the freedom to do whatever they want to do.
Now, I love the fact that we have independence here in the United States. We enjoy a freedom I never want to take for granted, something we’ve been given as a gift.
But you know what’s crazy? As a follower of Jesus, as a Christian, I realize that as much as I love to celebrate my independence, the Bible teaches unequivocally that I am totally dependent – and so are you.
We are completely dependent upon God’s provision, his mercy, his grace. I have breath in my lungs because of my dependence upon the Lord. I don’t even produce fruit in my life on my own. God’s bearing eternal fruit in my life, the fruit of the Spirit, comes from me being dependent upon Jesus and abiding in him. So as much as I love to celebrate Independence Day, let’s never forget that we are totally dependent on a good God who does amazing things.
I realize that idea of dependence obviously flies in the face of everything we celebrate during 4th of July. But I also want to tell you something that’s been blowing my mind lately, and it’s this: dependence and independence actually aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s only when we have one without the other that we get ourselves into trouble.
Look at it this way: when I embrace independence without living in dependence on God, I eventually end up stuck on a course that’s self-destructive. If we’re honest with ourselves, anything we pursue long enough without seeking help and guidance from God becomes a bad thing…right?
On the other hand, there’s a way we get can get in trouble with the idea of dependence too. Dependence does not equal inaction, but we see people live like that all the time, right? Sometimes we live like we’re so dependent on God we don’t have to do anything, but that’s not true. Being truly dependent on God means trusting him with the things outside of our control – and then taking responsibility for the things that are within our control.
And really, when we live in dependence on the Lord, that’s our key to true freedom. Only when we walk with Jesus do we get to enjoy independence from the things that really hold us in bondage – sin, death and self-destructive habits. Jesus sets us free from all of it and offers us the ability to join him in living an abundant life.
So this week, no matter where in the world we’re from, let’s embrace a conscious dependence on Jesus and enjoy the independence he shares with us as we walk with him.