We don’t need God. At least we don’t act like it. We give lip service to dependency on God, we sing songs about it and make cheesy facebook posts about it, but most of the time, honestly, we live like we really don’t need God.
Let’s talk about the macro first- the Church, and I’m talking specifically about Churches in the west. We put our trust and our hope in many things, demographics, strategies, workshops, and techniques. We trust and depend on our preachers or our facilities or our programs. But honestly, there seems to be very little actual dependence on God put into practice.
I’ve been in the church all my life and been in ministry in one form or another for 20 years. I’ve seen this play out over and over. As I get more involved in missions I see vibrant, lively, and passionate churches around the world that operate without all the modern church trappings, but have a depth of faith and love that is awe inspiring. The difference? They see and live much more prayerful and dependent lives as a community of faith.
Pastor David Platt notes, “We can so easily deceive ourselves, mistaking the presence of physical bodies in a crowd for the existence of spiritual life in a community.”1 He also notes the difference in their approach and ours, “They are pleading for the power of God, and they are confident that they are not going to accomplish anything without His provision.”2
Now the micro –us as individual believers. Being good Americans, we have a high opinion of ourselves and our abilities. We believe that if we work hard enough and long enough, we can achieve anything. On one hand this kind of optimism and work-ethic is commendable. On the other, when it infuses into our faith, we easily begin to forget our essential need for dependence on God and his power. Jesus told us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”3
Can do little? Can do some things? Can do…nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I wonder if this isn’t why the Church and many Christians struggle and feel unfulfilled in their walk with Christ. We are forgetting that we are designed for dependency on God. We are called to seek and depend on His provision in our lives.
For me, some of the most meaningful experiences I have had have been in those moments where I was forced (often by circumstances) to walk in faith and dependence on God and then see his power at work. Think about it, would Jesus have sent the Holy Spirit (to comfort, to guide, to provide) if we didn’t really need Him?
And yet this is the experience of faith that I believe God wants us to know. When we do things in our own power, we will always attribute it to ourselves –our own ingenuity and effort. But what if God’s design is for us to exercise dependence on him and experience His provision so that there can be no doubt of His love and His work?
Let’s stop depending on ourselves. Let’s dream God-sized dreams, walk in God-sized faith, step out for God-sized causes so that we learn to depend on His provision and know the truth St. Paul proclaims in Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
1 Platt, David, Radical, Multnomah, 2010, page 50
2. IBID, page 51
3. John 15:5, ESV