Before you get too concerned about whether this might be a strike at another famous declaration, it’s not. It occurs to me that independence, whether corporate or individual, is a subject that Christians should think through very carefully when it comes to the assessment of life. The fact is, we humans love the thought of independence. We love to be independent thinkers and often set ourselves up as the authority on truth. We love to be in control of our own life decisions. We want to be in control of our destinies and we even want to be in control of our identities. Independence is one of the great lusts of the human soul.
The problem is that as we read through Scripture, we so often find that our pursuit for human autonomy ends in dissatisfaction and disaster. When we live as those who are ignorant of accountability, we live for self and we only seek satisfaction and meaning within the confines of this world. Ignorance of God in any aspect of our life, even for Christians, ends in hurt. The way of the transgressor is hard (Proverbs 13:15). The temporary satisfaction we get from seeking to live independently seems to fade in the deterioration of aging and changing responsibilities of life. When independence fails, there is nothing left to satisfy.
Independence is also a fallacy. We are never truly independent. The bible clearly shows us that we are either under the authority of sin (and/or Satan) or God. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul calls Satan the god of this world and says that he has blinded the eyes of those who are unable to see the glory of God in Christ. That sounds like a very debilitating power upon the life of any unbeliever who lives in the fallacy of their own autonomy.
The person who delights in dependence upon God has a greater end. As we move through the different phases of our life, we know a greater purpose and hope in an eternal future. We also know that the path that depends on Christ and his word is the way of truth and life (John 14:6). Jesus also brings us out of the way of hardship into the security of his easy yoke and lightens our burden (Matthew 11:28-30). In Christ, we have been reconciled to God having been in ignorant rejection of his authority to now living a life of dependence on the one who greatly rewards and gives everlasting peace. Instead of being controlled by selfish lusts, we are controlled by selfless love. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 Paul tells us that, “..the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” The Christian declares not independence but dependence having been saved into a life whereby we no longer live for self and the control of love.
This is hope. So many people are taken by surprise in life when their independence is lost in the deterioration of the body and mind. So many people are left with the depression of functionless bodies in old age. The Christian declaring dependence is always hopeful in the knowledge that we are in the hands of the Great Restorer. We can be joyful even in incapacity knowing that this is a phase of life in which our greatest goal is to please the one we are dependent upon. We have not lost satisfaction in the loss of selfish goals, but we have maintained contentment in the fact that God gives us every strength in any situation to please him and know his all-encompassing love in our life. Through dependence on God, there may be temporary loss for eternal gain. Independence only brings eternal loss in the pursuit of our temporary gain.
From the wisdom of Solomon, we get an encouragement that can be taken with us through every phase of life from youth to death. In Ecclesiastes 12, we are commended to “remember our Creator” in our youth, in aging, and as we approach death. Through faith in Jesus Christ, this is a glorious dependence that we take with us into all eternity as we live in the joy of God’s everlasting provision.