The Independent Christian
Being independent is a great feeling, isn’t it? You do what you want, when you want, ‘not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)’, according to the dictionary. We all strive for independence, which is a good thing because independence:
boosts our confidence,
gives us a sense of accomplishment after we achieve a goal, and
boosts our value and self-esteem.
So, being independent is good, but not when it comes to Christianity. Christianity is all about submission and dependence on God. There is no such thing as an independent Christian because there is nothing that you nor I can do that can save us! Here are some things we must do as we seek to depend completely on God in our Christian walk.
Depend for Salvation
If there is one reason to be submissive and dependent on God it is for salvation; this is the only way our souls can be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 said it best; “for by grace you been saved through faith, and that not yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) Not of works, lest any should boast.” Salvation is not because of any human achievement. It is not because we have been good, it is not because we go to church every Sunday, it is not because we loved our neighbours, it is not because we’re holy. Salvation is a result of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that’s why we must be dependent on Him. That is reason enough for us to be humble.
The Scripture said that it is a “gift.” A gift is not something that you work for. It is something given to you free of charge. Salvation is a gift from God, not because we deserve it but because of His Grace.
Pride doesn’t sit well with God because it makes us think that we’re more than we really are; self becomes more important than God. James 4:6 tells us that God opposes/resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. A perfect example of this is the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:6-16. Both men went into the temple to pray. One of them was a prideful man and one was a humble man. The Pharisees were enforcers of the Law. They tried their best to keep it and ensured that others kept it as well. This was the attitude with which the Pharisee in the story approached God. He said, “I thank God that I’m not like other people. I am not a thief, not dishonest, I’m not an adulterer. I fast twice a week and I pay my tithe.” It was this arrogance that he approached God with - as if he was the most holy and righteous being. How God hates this arrogance, this prideful-ness!
The tax collector on the other hand approached God with humility. He stood his distance, considered himself unworthy to even look to the heavens, and he beat his chest. His prayer was, “God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” That’s the humility that we need to approach God with. When we acknowledge that we are sinners, we are acknowledging the need for God in our lives. Jesus said that the tax collector left more justified than the Pharisee. In other words, friends, the Pharisee, who was the enforcer of the law, was not as justified as the tax collector. He also said everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but everyone who humbles himself shall be exalted! God hates pride. To be dependent on God we must kill our pride and be submissive.
What about us? What is the condition of our hearts? Yes, we go to church every Sunday, yes, we sing songs of praise, yes, we partake of the Lord’s Supper and give an offering, but what is the condition of our hearts? Is there some pride there that we need to get rid of? Are we like the Pharisee?
Acknowledge the Need for God
In Psalm 127, King Solomon states, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who built it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watch man stays awake in vain.” This is showing true dependency on God. Solomon is saying that no matter what we do to keep ourselves and our property safe, without God’s protection, all that we have done is in vain.
You see, it doesn’t matter what we have done or accomplished – we still need God. We can’t outgrow God; we’ll always need him. Let us not allow our accomplishments to blind us to the fact that we need God. Solomon certainly didn’t. He was in a place where he had no physical need because he was king. He had it all, but he wrote with such humility and wisdom, recognising his need for God. The truth is that if you have 10 billion dollars, you need God. If you are flat out broke, you need God. Unless God is right there, everything is in vain.
The Psalm continues, highlighting dependency on God for daily accomplishments and for food. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he gives His beloved sheep.” We wake up early for work and we stay out late working overtime, but unless God has His hands in it, it will all be in vain. We need to honour God with our homes, we need to honour God with our country, and we need to honour God with our work, because without God all of it is in vain. WE NEED GOD!
Like a small child in the kitchen all by himself, so it is with our lives when we try to live independently of God; we make a complete mess. Just as children are dependent on their parents for security, for food, and for the necessities of life, so should we depend on God.
Clearly dependence is a requirement for us to become saved and to remain saved. Jesus summed this up perfectly in Matthew 19:14 – “Let the children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”