This month we celebrate American Independence Day, representing the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This was the day the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, having already declared the independence of the colonists from the authority of the British on July 2, 1776. As important as this day is in the life of our great nation for our independence, in contrast I pray we will be reminded to declare our utter dependence upon God, not only this day, but every day on this side of heaven.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . . .No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5 NIV).
Adam and Eve
As a pastor, I am often confronted with Christians who mistakenly believe our dependence began after Adam and Eve sinned against God. Not true! Before the first sin entered humanity, Adam and Eve were totally dependent upon God. Their divine design was one of utter dependence upon omnipotence. They were made by God for God and were never to live a single moment independent from God. Self-reliance and self-rule was never a part of their divine design, but rather, the fruit of their rebellion against God in seeking autonomous rule from their creator and sustainer.
The sinful story the serpent sold Adam and Eve in the garden convinced them to seek their independence from God and live both above and apart from the one who created them and was sustaining them. They immediately found out just how dependent they were upon God. Only now they were dependent upon God for his mercy and forgiveness, which they undeservedly received through the promised Savior.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel….And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:15, 21 NIV).
God would have been totally justified to strike both of them dead right on the spot to satisfy his holy justice, but he did not. What God’s justice required—payment for sin—God’s grace provided in the giving of his precious Son, Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve were dependent upon God for life prior to sin, and they were dependent upon God for life after sin through the work of Christ on the cross.
When was the last time you considered just how dependent you are on God? For most people, they immediately reflect back on a season of struggle, suffering, or sorrow and how dependent upon God they were to get through it. What about the times in life when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the clouds are fleecy? In seasons of plenty and prosperity, we have a tendency to forget about our dependence upon God.
Regardless of where this finds you, your next breath is dependent upon God. The next beat of your heart is dependent upon God. Your hearing, eyesight and the circulation of your blood are dependent upon God. If God were not upholding you right now, life as you know it would cease. This is true not only for every person who has ever lived but for everything that was ever created. Everything in the cosmos was created by God, for God and is totally dependent upon God, originally existing as a holy hymn for his glory. So, on this day of Independence let us all be reminded of our total and utter dependence upon God “for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV).
The Bible makes it clear that the person who is most aware of his dependence upon God is most often pursuing God through prayer. The more you feel your need for him, the more time you spend in prayer to him. If your prayer life is short or shallow, you can be assured your sense of dependency upon God is short-circuited. To be sure, the Bible is full of examples of saints pursuing God through prayer. The model of course is our Master who was in constant communion with his Father in heaven. Here is one of my all time favorite verses: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).
“Prayer for God’s help,” John Piper says, “is one way that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder and display of our dependence on God for everything, so that he gets the glory when we get the help.”
Dependence is a good thing when we are depending upon God, and our prayer life is one of the best indicators of just how deeply we sense and show our dependence.
What better time than now, as we Americans celebrate independence, to declare and celebrate our utter dependence upon the righteous, self-sacrificial and benevolent rule of our gracious God.