I’d be willing to bet that the idea of being dependents ranks right up there with submission, meekness, and self-denial. That is a downright scary list of terms. But it’s a damned important one; in the life of faith, they are nothing short of necessity.
Yet, when I think of dependence it conjures visions of drudgery and weakness, invokes a feeling of incapability and helplessness. The idea of being a dependent is something I will fight tooth and nail before I succumb. Being one of God’s dependents — an adopted son — I rebel against at nearly every turn.
Similarly, we bristle at the thought of dependence in relationships. We don’t need anyone else; we choose each of our friends, we don’t require them. We only scratch the surface of God and relationship with this view.
I need God
I need God. It’s true that I can do all things in Him who strengthens me, but the inverse is also true; I can do nothing without Him. Let me repeat that for my own edification: I can do nothing without depending on God.
I am selfish and prideful. Society doesn’t help this truth. In fact, I am encouraged in strengthening these attributes through further glorifying myself, my independence. But since when has societal norm ever been an acceptable rationale? It’s an excuse.
No, society makes our being dependents of greater importance. Counting myself among the millions of dependents, of saints past and present, is only more noticeable as our culture swings further toward glorification of the self. And again, I can do nothing without God.
I need God, therefore I need relationships. My need for God is derived from how I was made, part of that being the fact that I am the created, another part being that I am made in His image. God has always been in perfect community, so I need community, friends.
Why dependents really need God
God is also omniscient, omnipotent, omnificent, but that doesn’t mean we’re any of these things, you may say. You’re right, but each of these speaks into how He has made us, who we were always meant to be.
Looking at the Trinity, I see three best friends, lovers, admirers, eternally supporting one another, relying on one another, glorifying and praising one another. Honestly, God is overwhelming. But God relies on Himself; the Father relies on the Son, the Spirit on the Father, the Son on the Spirit, etc.
The Father has never existed without the Son or Holy Spirit, and Jesus did not act without hearing from the Father through His Spirit. You see, the members of God are dependents of one another. Without one, God is not; when God acts, all members of the Trinity fill their roles in concert perfectly with one another.
Likewise, we need relationships to fill the gaps we ourselves possess. We need others in our lives to share their unique abilities that enrich our lives in ways that no one else can. But first, we need to be okay with the fact that on our own, we’re not okay. On my own, I’m not sufficient. And that is okay.
Dependents, not invalids
I do not have to be self-sufficient, because the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are not. This means that I need the harsh words in relationships just as much as I need the encouragement, if not more so! I need the insights of my wife, my friends, and family because without them I am blind. And alone.
Being dependents does not mean being needy or parasitic. Dependency in human relationships should be mutual, friends. Once again, look at God. The Spirit doesn’t just cling to the Father like a barnacle. Just no!
I know some of you may be disagreeing with me right now, thinking that reliance is truly weakness, that while you can abide by duty and maybe even denying yourself in relationships, dependency should have no part. I leave you with this:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” — Ecclesiastes 4:9–12
Okay, I lied. I will leave you with this:
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17
In my opinion, it sounds like the Bible contains no shortage of passages supporting our need for and in relationships.
Originally published at faiththroughdoubt.com on December 27, 2015.