I can see the remnants of the 4th of July fireworks in my minds eye. It was only a few days ago when we celebrated our country’s day of independence from England. The moment in history when the British Colonies decided that they no longer wanted to be British but something altogether new and different. Their hopes for freedom became realized at a high price.
This idea of independence is so noble to me. I love the thought of becoming one’s own self, standing on your own two feet and being self-made. These ideals appeal to a very deep part of me. There is respect in not being dependent on others and taking responsibility for one’s self.
As I reveled in these romantic independent notions I was assaulted by a more profound reality.
Reading my Bible, John 15 to be exact, Jesus explains to His friends that in order to live a life of eternal productivity and purpose they have to leave independence behind. He states:
Remain in me, as also I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ~ John 15:4
Can independence and dependence co-exist?
You can see the conflict? Yes?
But maybe not.
It takes a certain amount of independence to rely on Jesus. Trusting Jesus is an individual thing that requires a personal decision, you might say an independent decision. And following Jesus, or “walking” with Him as some like to refer to it, involves a determination to move with Him and obey His will. This too is an independent skill for one cannot choose Jesus every day without first deciding it.
So maybe what Jesus calls in us is into is a bigger version of independence? Maybe full dependence on Him is the greatest celebration of independence there is? To willfully become dependent on Him requires all of our independent thought and heart. Becoming God reliant in all things and for all things instead of self-reliant. Independence is a gift that leads us to God.
According to Jesus this is where we find joy in life.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~ John 15:11
Radical dependence on God requires an independent spirit for no one can make another dependent on God.