Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Self-Sufficient

All parents aim to bring their kids up to be responsible adults. Some better than others, sure, but there has to be something of that in every parent-child relationship. We want them to learn to "stand on your own two feet", to be brave and strong and ... you know, all those good things. We would like them to be self-sufficient. It is, after all, the American Dream, isn't it?

I wonder how much the "American Dream" has messed up American Christianity. That kind of thinking, at least. We seek to "stand on your own two feet", to "live the dream", to "do it my way." We think that if we imagine and believe and work and persevere we can get almost anything we want ... and that's a good thing.

Paul said, "I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) Not "on my own". He told the Philippians "It is God who is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure." (Phil 2:13) Not you. Proverbs says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." (Prov 3:5) Not "in yourself" and not your own understanding.

James tells us that our friendship with the world is hostility toward God -- spiritual adultery (James 4:4). He goes on to say, "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us." (James 4:5) Now, think about that one. Here we are, intending to "make it on our own", to "be my own person", to tough it through, and Christ has given us His Spirit ... to dwell in us. What are we doing?? Why do we settle for so little? He gives us so much and all we want to do is use our own broken, misguided, deceitful, sinful resources. What's wrong with us?

But we do it. And we applaud those who do. The church that adopts more entertaining, more popular, more up-to-date, more worldly-marketing style worship and programs is a success. The church that leans on Christ and His power is "on the wrong side of history". We American Christians in particular buy the comfort and luxury of our culture over the "go into all the world and make disciples" command of Christ. We salve our consciences with, "That's someone else's job."

There is a story in 2nd Kings when the Arameans were besieging Dothan. People were starving to death. But Elisha promised that food would come the next day (2 Kings 6:8-7:2). As it turned out, four lepers outside the gates decided to give themselves up to the enemy, so they went out to surrender. God made the sound of those four to sound like an army to the Arameans and they ran for their lives. The four lepers found a deserted camp filled with food and riches (2 Kings 7:3-8). There they were, indulging in rich food, rich clothes, rich riches, and one of them thinks of the people starving in the city and says, "We do not well." (2 Kings 7:9) Brothers and sisters, we do not well. People in our own backyards and around the world are dying without Christ. We have come across incalculable riches -- the very resources and power of God -- that we did not provide but are now ours. And we're just playing with them instead of sharing them.

Self-sufficient? It doesn't actually exist. "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Col 1:17) Self-sufficient? Why, when we have Christ?
If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3)

2 comments:

Bob said...

there seems to be some tension between self sufficiency and dependence upon God. we must teach our children both. we have seen the comical situations where a 27 year old man child is still living in the basement of his parents house. and yet on the other extreme we have heard the song " I DID IT MY WAY" from someone that may very well be in hell. we have also heard from some believers that are out of work, saying i will just stay here on the couch and wait for God to find me a job. do we not encourage such a person to get up and become active in the pursuit of employment? perhaps the order of operations is helpful. Trust in God as though it all depends on him. then work as though it all depend upon you. in addition it does help to distinguish the things that only God can do. and areas that man must do by himself.

Stan said...

Yes, indeed, there is a problem in this world. Latest figures say that kids are living at home longer ... often up into their 30's. Beyond that, studies suggest that, if you use criteria for responsible adults like marriage, employment, living outside the home -- that kind of stuff -- "mature adult" is occurring later. The average "adult" age by that measure today is somewhere in the late 20's. But is it "self-sufficiency" we want them to learn or responsible dependence on Christ? We are to depend on Him for all our needs, but we're also told "He who will not work should not eat." (2 Thess 3:10) So it is as you say. We depend on Christ and then go do what He said to do, trusting Him to provide the will and power to do it.