With the Fourth of July reminding us of our independence, I wonder if we really are independent. Do we think we can make it on our own? Do we think the decisions we make only affect us? I wonder how many of us live our lives without realizing how the decisions we make affect others. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Dependence is a word we find in the thought of Independence. Independence implies we are on our own, without need of help or assistance. It implies that we do not need anyone or anything to tell us what to do, where to go and how to behave. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not wired to be independent.
Think about it; are we truly independent? If we take a look at history, what really happened on Independence Day was a group of people banded together and relied on each other for the strength to declare their independence from British rule. Without the support of each other they would not have been able to achieve success. They were willing to lay down their lives to secure that freedom and today we still demonstrate that willingness.
We sometimes confuse the meaning of the term independence. What does it take to be truly independent? You must divorce yourself from everyone and everything. In society we have a term for that type of person, a loner, someone who prefers to be alone. I am not sure that is how God created us to be.
Look at the word Family, it is plural, it implies more than one. Look at our lives. How many of us spend our time completely alone? We don’t. We spend it with family and/or friends. If we don’t have any we go out and look for some. We spend a large part of our time searching for people to be with. We are people who find some satisfaction and fulfillment being around other people.
I think of the TV show Cheers, a place where everyone knows your name. That was a pretty eclectic bunch, and each one had their issues. But they tolerated their differences for the opportunity to be together. It rings out in my head as I remember; “Norm!” When the band is all together things are normal, but not until we are all here. What’s our norm?
We surround ourselves with people. We enjoy their company. We cannot live without it. One of the secrets to life is our interdependence on each other. The Body of Christ, those who belong to Christ through the acceptance of His sacrifice, is made up of people who depend on each other. Paul writes;
1 Corinthians 12:12-20; The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Our lives are enhanced when we share them with others. When we come together, we can build a life that reflects the love that God has for each of us. The question might be asked, how does this affect me? How does my life affect those around me? Am I a functioning part of the body or do I need some physical therapy to straighten things out?
Let me suggest first looking around at the people we spend your time with. Do we add or subtract from these relationships? Are people better for knowing us or do they run the other way when they see you coming? Do people seek us out when they need help, support and guidance in their lives?
Jesus lived his life as an example for us. People sought Him out because they knew their life would be better if they listened to Him. If you examine Scripture no one who sought Jesus out was turned away. It didn’t matter what their social or economic situation was, Jesus made time for them. In Scripture we learn that when people came face to face with the living God, they never left the same way they came. Their encounter with Jesus changed them; spiritually, mentally and physically.
Let us ask ourselves, do people see Jesus in us? If they do, they will seek us out when their lives are not what they should be. It is in this process where we become interdependent. Our lives depend on those around us and their lives depend on us. So much is riding on the way we live; we should live in a way that is right. Paul writes in Philippians 2:5 that our attitude should be the same as Jesus’.
That is a great goal, but most of us fall short. We give in to our selfish desires and put the concerns of others secondary to what we want. To overcome this we need to be accountable to someone. Who are we accountable to?
We need to find ourselves a faithful friend, one we can trust. One who cares enough about us to tell us the truth. With such a friend we can improve our walk tremendously. We will succeed more than we fail. And when we fail, we will have someone there to stand beside us and help us get back on track.
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us;
Ecclesiastes in 4:9-10,12; “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! …. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
It is good to be dependent on someone and have someone depend on you. It is the basis on which strong fulfilling lives are built. Building on that foundation will not only help us, but will help those who depend on you. Our ability to live a life that brings Glory to God is dependent on those around us.