-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dependence and Independence

Today I was thinking about the themes of dependence and independence as it pertains to life and our relation to God. (I was reading Gustaf Wingren's: Creation and Law). What struck me was the complete contradictory mental processes that all us sinners make in our concepts of dependence and independence.

I want to approach this issue from the perspective of Creation and the Fall (something I often do). What I discovered was that, no matter what, we are completely dependent...period; in every way possible. The contradictions arise when we try and assert independence in an existence that completely precludes this.

Take Adam and Eve. In their attempt to "make something of themselves," that is, assert independence from God's sustenance, express their ability to care for themselves outside of God's will, and essentially self-"justify" themselves, they take something that they had dominion over (the tree) and they become it's slave, they become dependent on it. Thus the contradiction: In their attempts to become independent they become utterly dependent.

What I will show is that, this is how it always works. Let me first give the twisted definition of how the flesh defines independence. The flesh understands independence with these corollary terms: power, success, dominion, lack of accountability (the need to give account to someone or something), and, of course, lack of dependence on anything external.

Now a good example (and one that continues the theme of dominion) would be a power-playing king. The king believes he is above everyone, he has power, success, dominion, he is accountable to no one, and believes he has no dependence on anything other than his own will and abilities. But, when we take a second look, we see how contradictory this thought is. The fact is, the king is a slave to everything that got and keep him there: he is a slave to his parents, to those he overthrew or had to subdue to hold this position, he is a slave to his subjects on whom he places extraordinary weight in order to make his kingdom fruitful, he is a slave to creating military might, he is a slave to his continued health, to the faithfulness of his assistants, etc. The reason that he is a slave is because he took, he grasped (ala the fruit). And the harder he squeezes to continue to hold on to this dream of independence, the more the things that he is dependent on weigh in on him. A cold becomes a dire threat; the threat of revolt leads to harsher control; etc. In his attempt to become lord over these things, he becomes a slave.

As a principle this will always be the case: Regardless of our thoughts on God, from a logical standpoint, to whatever point or place we come to in life, there are reasons why we got there, and reasons why we are still there, we are dependent on these things. The more we try and control these variables the more we become slaves to them. The intellegencia were dependent on their teachers, the rich on their work, the strong on their exercise. They cannot claim that they achieved these things independent of any factors. Quite literally, to be independent means to be able to create ex nihilo, you need to be able to create something out of nothing, we would need to be God!

The contradiction, then, is this: The more we strive for independence and all this entails, the more we show how utterly dependent we are. And yet, the ironic thing is that it is exactly those who strive for independence that are the last to admit or see what is staring them in the face; they are the ones who are utterly convinced of their independence.

The answer to the contradiction is not to take (as in the fruit, or in the case of the king), but to receive, that is, entering God back into the equation, to recognize what God has given us, to thankfully receive this, and to joyfully go out and care for those things God have given us dominion over. It is certainly not bad to be a king, or to have power, or success, but it is when we recognize that God is the one who gives and promises to sustain us, that we no longer have to worry about colds, or fruit, or uprisings; we are freed. Sure, we may lose these things, we will go through trials, but for the very reason we are dependent, means we are dependent on something or someone, and this Someone promises never to leave us. We are dependent, it is true, but we are dependent on a God who promises to clothe, feed and sustain us, and finally bring us home.

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