Monday, June 16, 2014

Lean On Me

A number of years ago, there was a family in a certain group of friends we were in who was going through some serious struggles. Major illnesses, job loss, hospitalizations, financial setbacks . . . serious struggles. Our group rallied around them in every way, providing emotional, spiritual, and material support as best we could.
Ultimately, there came a point where it was clear that their financial needs were going to continue for a while and were going to be beyond what we friends could help them with. That's when one of the group approached the couple, suggesting that they ought to look into some government assistance until the situation turned around.
They refused. They had no intention of being on welfare, they said. Their friends tried to change their mind – you would not be taking advantage of the system or of anybody. You've paid into the system over the years. And you are exactly the kind of people in exactly the kind of situation that these programs are intended for. Still, they refused.
This is pride, and not the good kind. This is not a demonstration of independence and self-sufficiency – this is a demonstration of foolish stubbornness. A person who refuses the help available when they are in genuine need of help thinks too highly of himself. He thinks he should be above the kind of interdependence that God has designed us to live in.
Yes, you just heard a conservative Republican say that: we are meant to be dependent on each other. The stereotypical self-made lone-ranger American is not a biblical model for living. On the contrary, the model we are given in scripture is that of a body, where each part does its job and subordinates itself to the Head, which is Christ. Arms need feet, and livers need eyeballs, and they all need the Brain . . . which interacts with the world through the other parts. As good as it may feel to folks to be able to say they don't need anyone else when times get tough (or even when times are good), they are distinctly out of the will of God when that is the condition of their heart.
What's more, such an attitude of self-sufficiency will send you straight to hell. Consider what this person is (consciously or subconsciously) saying to God. “Yes, Lord, I hear you telling me that I can't put myself right on my own, that you want to do this for me as a gift of grace. But see, I don't take charity. If I can't do it myself, I'd rather just do without. I'll muddle by as best I can on my own efforts. That's good enough for me. Give all that grace to someone else who needs it more. I'm good. Thanks anyway.”
You're not good. When it comes to your righteousness and salvation and eternal destiny, you're absolutely, positively not good. You're in desperate need of God's intervention, whether you realize it or not. And maybe creating us to be dependent on each other is part of the humbling process that brings us back to Him.

God, teach us that balance of interdependence and personal responsibility in our social realm . . . but teach us how to be child-like and completely dependent on You in every realm.

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