By Sam Snyder
The other day I was teaching my son how to use a wheelbarrow while I was moving a big dirt pile with my kids. He wasn’t quite tall enough or strong enough to make it all of the way by himself so I walked behind him carrying enough weight to balance the load and keep him going so that he could learn. He made it all the way, but he knew that it was only because I helped him that he was able to do what he did, not once did he think that he had done that all by himself.
Our lives are similar: God is behind us carrying the weight and keeping things steady, yet sometimes instead of recognizing His presence and His work in our lives we think we are the ones doing it without anyone’s help! We find ourselves in a culture that values independence, probably to a fault. We just celebrated Independence Day in United States and it’s great to be independent from the governments of other countries and to experience many freedoms we have today, but for many that independence has become an independence from God and from other people. There are many people “doing what is right in their own eyes” as long as they feel that they don’t “hurt” anyone (which is a pretty subjective measurement if there ever was one). They go through life without acknowledging God or giving Him thanks (Romans 1:18-32). Being surrounded by this it is easy for US to forget that we are God’s children and that we are called to dependent on Him!
I’m pretty sure that’s the type of relationship that Jesus modeled for us. Jesus lived His life IN Dependence not in Independence. He went so far as to say that He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). That’s a deep level of connectedness and dependence! The kind of dependence that a child has on a parent as their dependent or that the body has on the head to function. That’s why this new community, that is the church, is often talked about in the New Testament as a Body or a Family.
In Ephesians 4 Paul wrote about the importance of unity and interconnectedness within this body, the Church, which we call the Body of Christ. Each part works together to grow the whole body to maturity, connected in a deep unity rather than divided:
Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Paul uses a picture of interdependence in using the picture of a body growing up and building itself up as each part does its work. So Christ is the head and we are as dependent on Him as any part of a body is dependent on a head. We are meant to not only be dependent on Him but we are intended to be interdependent with each other, as no part of our body can fully do what it is meant to do without the cooperation and interconnectedness of the rest of the body.
We do need God and we do need each other. We are called be God’s dependents as His children and we also need every single member of the Body of Christ to be who God has created them to be and do what God has called them to do! God has knit us together to be inter-dependent with the His Body, with His Family! Dependent on Him and inter-dependent with each other, not to be independent from Him and from each other. This is true on a personal level for each of the people called to minister in the local expression of The Church we are working with, but it is also true in the greater expression of the Body of Christ as a Fellowship of Churches and in connection with the other expressions of the Body of Christ in our communities we live in and around the world. We need every part to do its work together with the others so that the WHOLE Body can grow and mature (Ephesians 4).
Are there ways that you have been living your life independent of God or without acknowledging Him as God or giving Him thanks?
Are there ways that you have functioned in life and in ministry believing that you didn’t really need the other personalities, giftings, cultures, or parts of the body of Christ within your local church body, your local community, or our Fellowship of Churches?
How can you value every individual member in the congregation God has called you to lead and help connect them to the rest of the local church Body?
How can you connect in greater ways with the other ministries in the Body of Christ to advance God’s Kingdom together?
How can we grow in missions by working together? How can we grow as leaders by working together?
How can we grow in our ministry impact by working together and learning from each other?