Ok, so it was Independence Day on Tuesday. I hope you celebrated safely—I have some brothers-in-law who may lose a finger one of these years. As I mentioned on Sunday, it is right and appropriate to celebrate the freedoms that are afforded to us as Americans. It is even more appropriate to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives that we might enjoy these freedoms.
But it’s important that we don’t become too enamored with the idea of independence. As we read in Romans 6 on Sunday, we may think that we are these self-determining individuals, but that’s just a mirage. That’s true on a human level—any inventory of your life will undoubtedly show a massive network of relationships and institutions that have helped you to where you are today. This idea of ‘making it on your own’ sounds nice, but the people who hold this attitude most strongly are often those who have benefitted the most from unacknowledged benefactors.
And of course this is even more true when it comes to our relationship to God. In the pagan view, humans were responsible for their own lives, hoping to do their thing and avoid the wrath of the gods. The whole idea of making sacrifices and offering worship was about trying to coax one of the gods to bless you—to get on board with your plans.
That’s not where we are with God, the author and finisher of our faith. As we’ve seen throughout the book of Genesis, humans were made to depend on their creator. It isn’t that we haven’t been uniquely gifted or are not capable of any good work—it’s simply that all of our capacities, all of our potential to flourish, can only be expressed as we lean into God’s bigger purposes for our lives.
When we invest all our energies in going on our own way, trying to make a name for ourselves, we are quickly drawn into slavery to sin. Everything in this world that promises to give us control, authority, or freedom leaves us shackled to habits and expose us to suffering. When we get over our plans and see our task as to join with God, there is no limit on what he can do through us.
Have a great week!