Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The first official day of summer was June 21st. Some of you may pay attention to such things as the ‘official first day of summer’, but I’ve always thought of summer beginning with the 4th of July. It’s kind of the kick off of summer for me with the all the fanfare and such. When I was young it meant summer vacation from school and family trips, bar-b-ques, beach parties and those lazy days of summer. And I loved that it felt like the fireworks and excitement of 4th of July was a perfect way to start 3 months of fun, fun, fun!
Of course, 4th of July is much more than parties and instructions to ‘light fuse and get away’. It is really a day of patriotism, celebrating our countries independence from an oppressive monarchy. And a country borne out of a fierce desire for independence and democracy, a government of the people for the people, started a culture that has embraced our independence as a nation and as individuals. We cherish our freedom as much as anything in this world.
The dictionary defines independence as, “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.” Sound about right? I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, what to think, where to go, or how to live my life! I think that attitude stems largely from a culture that was born out of a struggle for independence. It doesn’t hurt that that kind of attitude also appeals to our generally strong egos.
So, how does this work with our faith? Certainly we embrace the freedom of religion in our country, but do our religious beliefs promote a radical kind of freedom or strict obedience to our Lord? Think about that for a second. Does the Bible teach us that we are free from the control or influence of God? Well, in a way, yes it does. God gave all humankind free will to resist being controlled or influenced by the God who created us all. On the opposite side of the coin is the understanding that we should submit our lives to God and let Him be in control and be influenced by the teachings of Jesus. In a sense faith means giving up our independence to God. It is recognizing that God truly is in control and that submitting to Him is the ideal way of life.
As a Christian we can say that it’s super easy to give God control! Right? If you said “Yes!” we need to talk. This is one of our greatest battles and most significant struggles of our faith. Sin, our egos, and the world we live in bombard us with the message of, “It’s all about me! I want, I want, I want! And ME, ME, ME!!!” Jesus tells us to ‘love our neighbors,’ ‘give to the poor,’ ‘be the least of all’. And Paul tells us not to think too highly of ourselves. With these mixed messages it’s no wonder life can be so confusing, especially life as a Christian.
We fight our whole lives for independence and it’s a fight we will never win. In order to live a life of fulfillment we will always need others, but more importantly we will always need God, especially as it relates to our salvation. We are completely dependent on Christ for that. This is one of the many paradoxes in the life of a Christian. Fiercely independent and completely dependent all at the same time.
So, what the point of all of this? Frankly, it’s what your Pastor writes when he can’t think of anything else to write for the newsletter and the deadline has already passed to finish this article and he’s thinking about the month of July and a national holiday. But, beyond my lack of inspiration I hope that it sparks in you to take a moment and consider what it means to be totally dependent on our Lord for the one thing that matters most of all and how we all might let God take control of all aspects of our lives. He’s taken care of the big thing, so it’s not difficult to think He can also handle the little things as well. When we do that the hope, peace and joy we have with the promise of our salvation becomes the hope, peace, and joy of our everyday lives. This is the abundant life that Jesus promises us if we depend on Him in all things. We celebrate our countries independence once a year, but we should celebrate our dependence on God every day, giving thanks to the One on whom we can always depend. Amen.
Yours in Christ,